News

AOL replaces tech chief after data breach

Tash Shifrin

Internet giant AOL has sacked two members of staff and its chief technology officer has left the company after the internet search terms used by more than 650,000 subscribers were made public.

The fallout from the huge privacy breach will see chief technical officer Maureen Govern replaced temporarily by John McKinley, her predecessor in the post who is now AOL's president for digital services.

The two sacked staff are understood to be a researcher who released the data and a supervisor. Govern, who has been at AOL only since September, is believed to have resigned.

AOL apologised on 7 August for releasing information on web search terms used by about 658,000 people onto the web. “This was a screw-up, and we are angry and upset about it,” a spokesperson said.

Although subscribers’ user names had been disguised, the company admitted that the search terms could reveal identities.

Chief executive Jonathan Miller has told staff that the company is planning to set up a taskforce to review its customer information privacy policy. But AOL could also face a wider investigation, with privacy campaigners calling for an inquiry by the US Federal Trade Commission.


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