by CIO Staff

AOL CTO Resigns Over Search-Record Disclosure (Updated)

Aug 21, 20062 mins
Mergers and Acquisitions

Since this story was originally reported, it has been updated to specify that AOL’s chief technology officer was not fired; rather, she tendered her resignation.

AOL, Time Warner’s Internet arm, accepted the resignation of its chief technology officer, Maureen Govern, and two additional employees were fired in response to the recent firestorm the Web giant faced from journalists, critics and privacy activists alike over its early August release of the results millions of searches performed by more than 650,000 of its users between March and May, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The news comes from sources close to the move who spoke with the Journal.

Govern, who served as AOL’s chief technology officer since September and was in charge of the unit the firm says was behind the search-record disclosure, will leave the company immediately, and a researcher and a manager involved with the search-records leak have also been let go, the sources told the Journal.

The news comes just weeks after AOL was blasted for releasing the data, which it has removed, though it has been cached by Google and saved and circulated by a handful of Web surfers who copied it before it was removed from the Internet. The company says the data was posted for research purposes.

Last week, both the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group, and the World Privacy Forum, a privacy protections party, each filed Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complaints against AOL, charging it with violating its users’ privacy and requesting that the FTC force the firm to disclose more information on the incident, as well as notify all those potentially affected.

Though AOL has said the searchers were not identified by name—numbers were used to represent them—it also acknowledged that their identities could be derived in some cases from information it made available.

Related Links:

  • AOL Could Face FTC Probe Over Search-Record Disclosure

  • AOL Hit With Second FTC Complaint

  • Google: AOL Breach Wouldn’t Happen at Our Co.

  • AOL Releases Data on Web Searches

Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.