AOL has fired its chief technology officer (CTO), following the revelation that the company had released the private search results of thousands of its subscribers.
Maureen Govern was fired effective immediately just short of her first anniversary as CTO. A researcher and the manager in charge of the project at issue also lost their jobs.
AOL has come under criticism from Internet privacy watchdogs after it was discovered that the company had posted to a research website the results of more than two million search queries made by 650,000 AOL subscribers between 1 March and 31 May. AOL researchers posted the data online, although it was intended only for use by AOL researchers.
Even though no personally identifiable information about AOL subscribers was revealed, the posting of search queries prompted another round of debate about the privacy rights of people who search online using AOL or other search engines. AOL has since removed the data from the Web.