The Wall Street Journal printed an interesting email "conversation" between Kevin Bankston, a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Markham Erickson, executive director of NetCoalition, a lobbying group for Internet firms, prompted by AOL's disclosure of the searches of over 650,000 of its customers. Bankston writes:
I'd also like to point out that search histories are a privacy risk even when they are not tied to the searcher, based on information that's in the search queries. For example, with a little phone and Internet legwork, the New York Times was able to identify AOL searcher no. 4417749 as Ms. Thelma Arnold, a 62-year-old widow who lives in Lilburn, Ga. Ms. Arnold, appropriately, responded: "My goodness, it's my whole personal life," she said. "I had no idea somebody was looking over my shoulder."
Link: Wall Street Journal. The New York Times link under the word "identify" above requires paid access. --Dennis