In a response to the controversial leak of the search records of AOL members, three individuals are seeking national class-action status for the suit. According to their lawyers, this is the first such lawsuit against AOL concerning this issue.
Officially, the suit charges “AOL LLC” with privacy violation, false advertising, and unjust enrichment, among other things. The three AOL subscribers, who are from California and New York, filed the suit on Friday in California’s U.S. District Court, and seek monetary compensation for all affected AOL members whose search data was released, dating back to 1 January, 2004.
Additionally, the individuals want AOL to stop keeping a track of user search history, as well as to destroy the records they already have. The scandal in question comes from a posting that AOL made on their publicly available research Web site that listed tens of millions of search engine records from more than 650,000 of its members.
Although user names were not linked to the posted records, privacy issues were still a compelling argument because each member’s search history was linked to a unique number which could potentially be used to identify individuals’ search engine records.
Once in the headlines, AOL quickly pulled the data from their site, but the data had already become widely spread throughout the Internet.
Some of the records contained highly personal information, including contact info, street address, Social Security number, and credit card numbers. This led to the resignation of AOL’s chief technology officer, Maureen Govern, as well as the firing of two other employees.