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AOL CTO Shown the Door

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the goodbye dept.

277

BrewerDude writes "Reuters is reporting that AOL Chief Technical Officer Maureen Govern has resigned from the company. Is this an appropriate penalty for releasing 20 million keyword search results, or is it too harsh, or not harsh enough? What do the slashdot readers think is the appropriate outcome of this fiasco?"

cancel ×

277 comments

The buck stops here (5, Insightful)

BWJones (18351) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951779)

Is this an appropriate penalty for releasing 20 million keyword search results, or is it too harsh, or not harsh enough?

Well, it would certainly be nice to see companies (and governments) go back to a model where "the buck stops here" and take responsibility for their actions. I don't know who ultimate thought "I know what let's do" and release these records for public consumption without even "anonymizing" them, but the CTO is an appropriately responsible party I would guess.

Preach on! (1)

freejamesbrown (566022) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951793)

I couldn't agree more.

DONT LET THE DOOR HIT U ON THE WAY OUT, SUGAR TITS (1)

CmdrTaco (troll) (578383) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952058)

n/t

CTO seems to be the wrong person. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951886)

Seems like the right person was the business man & legal council person who decided that AOL would keep these search records in the first place.


What the CTO did is merely reveal that AOL was deliberately holding on to this privacy time-bomb and exposed it in a relatively minor way. The person who actually leaked the data should be praised as a whistleblower.


I want whomever APPROVED STORING the logs to be fired; and whomever adviced that hanging on to this kind of data is worth the potential risks should be locked up and sued.

Re:CTO seems to be the wrong person. (3, Insightful)

jesuscyborg (903402) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952149)

Are you daft??? Do you really expect search engines to not keep tabs on what people are using their service for? EVERY search engine keeps records of searches; they'd be crazy not to. Most use them for good, to improve the results by figuring out how to adapt to the way people use it. Other companies hand sell them to the government and private companies...

I don't think there is any problem with retaining data, as long as they can be trusted to keep it safe and be held accoutable if they don't.

Re:CTO seems to be the wrong person. (1)

abscondment (672321) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952216)

I don't think that's really fair to the poor souls who work at AOL. No really, I'm being serious here.

AOL owes you nothing. If you use their service, any information you disclose to them isn't private. They have no obligation to refrain from storing it, notify you that they're storing it, et cetera. Don't mis-hear me, though: publishing this information should definitely be out of their bounds.

But seriously: if you don't trust a company, don't their services. What are you going to sue them for? Retaining records on how you used a service they provide? This is not exactly a litigable offense, unless the company lies to you about what it's doing in some way.

Re:The buck stops here (4, Informative)

MBCook (132727) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951888)

The problem is that they were not anonymised enough. They took out the user IDs, but they replaced them with numbers. As we've all seen, there was still enough there to identify people that way. To really sanitize it they would have had to remove that part so you couldn't tell which searches were together and which were from seperate users, but that would have made the data less usefull.

They would also have to remove all the searches that are to specific like "birth certificate for Joe B. McWhatever SSN:123-45-6789" and other such stuff which would have been a major burden too.

Re:The buck stops here (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952062)

Actually the buck stopped multiple times up the chain of command:
A researcher in AOL's technology research department and the employee's supervisor have also left the company in the wake of the disclosure, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday.
I doubt the CTO personally authorized the release, and after this I suppose all supervisors will lose some sleep over the prospect of being (unintentionally) torpedoed by a subordinate. That said, it may well motivate some new security measures, or at least awareness, in many companies. If nothing else you can bet AOLs new CTO will be sending down some decrees against the release of personal information.

Re:The buck stops here (0, Offtopic)

utopianfiat (774016) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952093)

I don't know about you, but I threw my head back and laughed when I saw this article title.
Slashdot is good entertainment again.

Who authorized it? (1)

imaginaryelf (862886) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952167)

If the CTO did authorized the release, then she's certainly the right person to be released [sic].

If however, a subordinate few levels below her did it, then firing the CTO can't really be justified. I mean, you might as well fire the CEO if you can justify firing her in that case.

You got it wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15952181)

She should have said that she was going to find out who released that and punish them by firing them. It seems to be a major trend for the last 5 years.

well, considering other reasons (4, Interesting)

yagu (721525) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951784)

From the summary: Is this an appropriate penalty for releasing 20 million keyword search results, or is it too harsh, or not harsh enough? ...

Well, considering that others are shown to the door for working 20+ years, garnering good reviews, and creeping within a chip shot of expensive pension payoffs, it's probably reasonable to show this guy the door.

Probably the biggest crime, and one we'll never be in on, is how golden a parachute this guy jumped with.

Re:well, considering other reasons (3, Funny)

SilentTristero (99253) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951820)

Um, Maureen Govern is not a "guy." See (e.g.) here [bizjournals.com] .

Re:well, considering other reasons (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951969)

Forget the ugly stick some one done used the entire forest on her.

Re:well, considering other reasons (1)

Who235 (959706) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952039)

It's refreshing to see that we can still judge people based on their physical appearance. I was afraid that extraordinarily accurate measure of a person's (especially a woman's) worth was no longer considered useful.

Grow up.

Re:well, considering other reasons (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952076)

Doesn't the fact that you point out she is female disprove your entire point?

Re:well, considering other reasons (2, Interesting)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952152)

Where in the grandparent post did you see any judgment about anything OTHER than her looks? Her "worth" was never mentioned.

If we can't judge peoples' looks by their looks, well, that's going to be a bit problematic.

Re:well, considering other reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15952040)

He meant to say 'goy' I think. See, he's a jew, get it?

I know, -1 unfunny

Re:well, considering other reasons (2, Informative)

Kenshin (43036) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952047)

guy
n.
      1. Informal. A man; a fellow.
      2. guys Informal. Persons of either sex.

Maureen is a womans name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951823)

Maureen is a womans name and it does suck that others are fired for far less whilst CxO's usually receive golden handshakes for failure. I think Mrs Governs search history would be poetic justice if the breach was her fault, which is most unlikely.

Re:well, considering other reasons (1)

joshier (957448) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952005)

I say we get her...

A WITCH!

Depends, will they provide us with his Net data? (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951791)

So that those 20 million people can track him down and make his life miserable?

Resigning means he keeps his massive stock options and his overly generous retirement benefits and other such excess compensation. The average CTO only survives a maximum of 18 months anyways.

Re:Depends, will they provide us with his Net data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951844)

TFS = Her life... and wasn't this the question last week about Koreans?

The appropriate punishment... (4, Funny)

mythosaz (572040) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951796)

Let it fit the crime.

AOL should release - without names, of course - the text of all the searches executed by recent AOL CTOs.

Re:The appropriate punishment... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951821)

I think he should have been demoted, into the Customer Service Call Center. See how he handles a couple of weeks trying to convince people to keep their AOL account.

"Why yes ma'am, I am responsible for releasing data on all your searches, but that's no reason to cancel your account!"

Re:The appropriate punishment... (5, Funny)

Frogular (961545) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951934)

Slight problem...

AOL CTOs have been using Google.

Re:The appropriate punishment... (1)

chameleon3 (801105) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952199)

AOL CTOs have been using Google.


Gee, I wonder why...

Recent AOL CTO keyword searches... (2, Funny)

gwayne (306174) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952086)

1. howto spin big fuckup
2. creating plausible deniability
3. crow recipies
4. top cto jobs -aol
5. job keygen crack
6. alcoholics anonymous
7. depression hotline
8. psychiatrist
9. gun shop
10. funeral parlor

Re:The appropriate punishment... (1)

tehshen (794722) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952188)

657427 i have got mail
657427 keyword advertising profits
657427 building a keywords list
657427 building a keywords list -illegal
657427 building a keywords list -legal
657427 keywords research purposes
657427 value of keywords list
657427 value of keywords list -greed
657427 do aol users care about privacy
657427 is screwup a good term
657427 how to get lawyers
657427 lawyers the pirate bay
657427 lawyers the pirate bay -sco
657427 poop
657427 me too

How's this? (1)

gettingbraver (987276) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951802)

NEVER being permitted to go online again!

Re:How's this? (5, Funny)

stevey (64018) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951847)

How about only being able to go online with AOL dialup?

Re:How's this? (5, Funny)

MrSquishy (916581) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952176)

Tomato/Tomato
...I guess that only works when spoken.

Re:How's this? (1)

Vengance Daemon (946173) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952001)

How about requiring him to use AOL as his ISP forever?

Re:How's this? (1)

CCFreak2K (930973) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952156)

I say she should not be allowed to own or operate a computer or touch-tone telephone until her 18th birthday.

Apropriate? (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951804)

Is this an appropriate penalty for releasing 20 million keyword search results, or is it too harsh, or not harsh enough? What do the slashdot readers think is the appropriate outcome of this fiasco?

The paradox is that the one who takes overall responsibility is axed, yet they have learned from the experience. They have also undoubtably done many things right, which their successor may goof on.

It's trading a devil you know for a devil you don't. Should have just docked her pay, made her stand in a corner of sommat.

Re:Apropriate? (2, Interesting)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952163)

Given the publicity this error has had (and its repercussions), the next CTO should have already learnt from the mistake. If he/she hadn't, I think AOL should select another CTO because, no matter your skills, common sense is still needed.

And if I even get to a job that someone has left vacant, one of my firsts worries will be asking what happened to the previous guys.

Re:Apropriate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15952169)

Aye, well, if I'm wrong I'll sit facing the corner with a funny hat.

Re:Apropriate? (1)

TheDreadSlashdotterD (966361) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952170)

By that logic, we should just have the president of the US stay in office until death. Actually, that might be good motivation for voters and politicians alike...

Let the punishment fit the crime. (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951805)

In an ideal universe, the last 90 days of Maureen Govern's search records would be published in a form suitable for addition to the database.

Re:Let the punishment fit the crime. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951866)

Well, that kind of punishment would only reflect 1 person's worth of searches over the 90 days. To be truly reciprocal would be to multiply the 90 days by the number of users whose searches were recorded.

Re:Let the punishment fit the crime. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951910)

272043: Whitehouse employment
272043: Government jobs
272043: NSA employment
272043: NSA Jobs
272043: AT&T employment
272043: AT&T Jobs
272043: well hung horses
272043: Search engine privacy
272043: Google refuse disclose search legislation
272043: War on terror destroy civil liberties
272043: Neo-con Agenda
272043: Total Information Awareness
272043: department responsible for AOL internal search history
272043: search profiling research
272043: current value of AOL stock options

Where's the connections... (3, Insightful)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951807)

They fired the person who released the data and the supervisor, and the CTO was shown the door. I think the management structure was a bit too flat for me to not be suspicious. Was there people between the supervisor and the CTO who should've gotten the sack? Or was the CTO shoved onto her proverbial sword as public sacrifice to blow over the controversy? Or what are they really covering up? Inquiring minds want to know...

Re:Where's the connections... (3, Interesting)

Enoxice (993945) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951946)

Was there people between the supervisor and the CTO who should've gotten the sack?

Are you suggesting they should've just burned down the whole division and started from scratch? The person that released the data (for obvious reasons), the direct supervisor (for not catching the error before it made it out, and the CTO (for not catching wind of it and stopping it). Personally, I want to think it was overkill to can the CTO, as well, but whatever AOL thinks they need to do to save face. It's their call.

He should have been fired. (2, Insightful)

Night Goat (18437) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951810)

Being allowed to resign isn't good enough. He should have been fired. It's ridiculous that once you get high enough on the corporate ladder, you don't get canned like the rest of us would. Us peons screw up a little bit, we get fired. But if you're a big cheese, and screw up hugely, you are allowed to resign. Life's not fair I guess.

Re:He should have been fired. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15952021)

When you get that far up resigning is a lot like getting fired.

Re:He should have been fired. (1)

aiken_d (127097) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952028)

Um, you seem to be complaining about a semantic difference. Everyone knows she was fired, and why. The only negative associated with being fired is what it says about you to future employers, and she will suffer from that sitgma every bit as much as one of you peons who gets fired.

Why worry about the semantics when the reality is clear to everyone?

Re:He should have been fired. (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952123)

Besides. If you must go, it is better to be fired. If you quit, you are often not eligable for unemployment. If your pride can't handle it, just ask your employer at the next layoff/firing if you can resign instead. You can be sure they will not only let you resign, but they will be happy to do it.

women, incompetent, demostration (1)

(fagging beta) (983460) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951812)

Is this any surprise. Judging from her name, AOL's CTO was a woman. This explains so much... Women should not be allowed into the workplace.

You know I am right.

Well (1)

Ichigo Kurosaki (886802) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951831)

After reading part one [somethingawful.com] and part two [somethingawful.com] of Something Awful's search logs his customers better want blood.

The Red Queen Says (1)

GlL (618007) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951832)

Off with her head!!!

Fry her in the oil... (0)

MufasaZX (790614) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951843)

...we used on those Irish "scientist" Quacks, and then dump her body in an empty fish pond who's contents were sold to make the Biofuel needed to keep that not-quite-free-energy machine running. By contents I mean the water, since the Gold Fish were smart enough to say "So long and thanks for food flakes" and beam up weeks ago.

Hmmmm... (1)

telchine (719345) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951871)

Is this an appropriate penalty for releasing 20 million keyword search results, or is it too harsh, or not harsh enough?

I know they still have death by firing line in the United States, What about hanging, drawing and quartering though?

Re:Hmmmm... (1)

DewDude (537374) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951956)

hanging is still done, although it's usually by request and usually isn't honoured. as far as the penalty, it depends how you look at this. if you take the "common sense" approach..anything you send out over public lines would in theory become public domain, similar to FCC laws regarding the FRS band...however some would argue that the internet isn't a "public forum" because they're in thier own home and using a closed system. personally, i see it as a major security problem, and those responsible should be sacked..however, at the same time, when i see something saying "so and so resigned from his position..." i basically see that as jumping ship. it doesn't mention if he was forced to resign, and even if he was, they still make it look like, and probably treat it as if he left on his own will, giving him his retirement and other benefits where as if they flat out fired him, he'd lose those benefits. at this point, you can begin to maybe see how if this is punishment, it's a cushy one. i'm not an AOL subscriber, personally this doesn't affect me, but it if had, i would personally be outraged at his apparent resignation because he's leaving before he can take any of the responsibility and any real punishment that's due to him; i'd say they should be yelling for nothing less than a stern immediate termination with loss of any benefits...and any lawsuits that might ensue from subscribers or on behalf of subscribers, he should take direct responsibility for..rather than skipping town.

Scapegoat maybe? (3, Insightful)

MoogMan (442253) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951875)

I fail to see how this could be the CTO's fault...

Re:Scapegoat maybe? (1)

telchine (719345) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951909)

>I fail to see how this could be the CTO's fault...

You are Bill Gates and I claim my five pounds!

Re:Scapegoat maybe? (3, Informative)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951940)

If the CTO doesn't want things like this to happen, then there should be procedures in place to prevent it. If she was completely blindsided by this, that's no better than if she was involved with the project and personally gave the okay. It's really only excusable if she's been CTO a relatively short amount of time and hasn't had a chance to get her shop in order.

Re:Scapegoat maybe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951980)

Is that how you run your 6 person company?

Re:Scapegoat maybe? (1)

Duhavid (677874) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952121)

I dont know Jack about this, but,
In fine slashdot tradition, I proceed.

What if she knew about this, and had been fighting
tooth and nail to keep it from happening? What if
she quit over them overriding her on this?

Not saying she did, but what if?

Scapegoat maybe?-In Korea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951997)

Welcome to slashdot. The South Korean version.

I am sure it's absolutely terrible (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951878)

I am sure he is crying into his 7 figure golden parachute all the way down.
Where can we donate to a fund to help his suffering family???

Kidding aside, if you want the obscene Executive salaries, you have to accept that you get to be the sacrifical fall guy that is used to appease the shareholders.

Something tells me (1)

Nybble's Byte (321886) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951882)

there will be no Mourning After she leaves.

Kudos to the CTO. (4, Insightful)

lancejjj (924211) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951890)

AOL Chief Technical Officer Maureen Govern has resigned from the company. Is this an appropriate penalty for releasing 20 million keyword search results, or is it too harsh, or not harsh enough? What do the slashdot readers think is the appropriate outcome of this fiasco?

Assuming she honestly resigned, big kudos to her for taking the responsibility and the heat, and not passing the buck down to the people who need the paycheck. It's not often that a person in power will take the fall - most often, 100% of the blame gets placed on lower-level people who were just doing what they were told.

I'm sure she didn't make the decision or understand the ramifications - after all, she is a CTO. And hopefully there are some people at AOL who would have known that this was a bad idea. But in the end, it was up to her to prevent this from happening. ... or the CEO.

Sexistdot (1, Interesting)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951900)

Why are so many posters referring to "Maureen Govern" as "he"?

Re:Sexistdot (1)

Vanieter (613996) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952045)

You must be new here. Nobody read summaries these days : the title's is good enough !

Re:Sexistdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15952064)

You shouldn't judge the gender of a person solely from their name. So, when in doubt, go with the gender neutral form, which is "he" in English.

sexistdot, cto, homemaker (1, Troll)

(fagging beta) (983460) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952091)

I know, does anyone think this would have happened if a man had been the CTO? It was clear to me from the beginning that this was caused by a woman. If there are women at your company, they are almost certainly the cause of problems like this.

The knowledge that there are so many women infiltrating the traditionally male workplace makes me fear for our future.

Women are often emotional, and their actions are more likely to based on feelings than on real thought. This is why they are so dangerous in corporate America.

Just ask yourself, "Would I prefer my isp's CTO to be named 'Maureen McGovern' or 'Michael Johnson'?"

Her company showed her the door, maby her husband should show her the kitchen.

Re:Sexistdot (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952092)

Or because "Maureen Govern" sounds a lot like "Maureen O'Gara" and nobody likes him/her/it?

That was the first thing that came to my mind, with Sexist.org a close second.

Sometimes it sucks to have a name similar to that of an asshat.

Re:Sexistdot (1)

Kesch (943326) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952113)

Because I have people like you to correct me if I turn out to be wrong.

Re:Sexistdot (1)

crabpeople (720852) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952217)

Well CTO (Chief Technical Officer) is made up of 3 words that denote masculinity. Chief, as in the male chief of a tribe. Technical, again the historic domain of men, machines. Officer, police or army, both of which were male dominated heavily untill very recently.

Its probably just latent sexism. That, and the fact that there is a definate deficiency in women in all IT jobs, probably drives it. I will admit that before i read an article earlier today about this, I did think she was a man. There just arent enough women in IT.

Search contents... (4, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951913)

Maureen Govern has resigned from the company. Is this an appropriate penalty for releasing 20 million keyword search results...?

AOL probably found her keyword searches for: "CTO", "fortune 500", "availability", "resume"...

not harsh enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951928)

mandatory castration

Absolutely (5, Interesting)

bgardella (132855) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951944)

During my first IT job, the CTO resigned when a server crashed and 2 weeks worth of orders and return information was lost. Tape backup procedures failed. Not sure if she was pushed out or if she voluntarily fell on her sword, but I felt then as I do now that it was the right thing to do. If you are the head of a department that fails to do their job in some egregious way, you should bear full responsibility and pay accordingly. Too many execs find ways to point blame below them. In my case, she could have easily fired the dweeb managing the backup tapes. He's the one who screwed up, right? Maybe he even lied about keeping up to date. This was 1995. Have I seen anything like it since? Nope.

resignation, her, failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15952141)

lol, anyone else starting to see a trend?

Shown the door? (3, Funny)

BigZaphod (12942) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951945)

Was it a new door or something? Why didn't she see it before? Was it even in her building? Why is this even news? I've seen a lot of doors in my time. In fact, I'm looking at one right now. Why don't I get a slashdot story, huh? What is this preference for the rich and famous? How does one even become rich and famous in the first place if so much depends upon the exposure given only to those already with status.... Why doesn't someone show *me* the door, dammit?! I'm a person too! I demand to be shown the door!

Re:Shown the door? (1)

daranz (914716) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951973)

The door? You can't handle the door!

Corporate Death Penalty (1)

thatguywhoiam (524290) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951954)

Perhaps not appropriate for this particular incident - but I'd like to see more discussion around the idea of holding these corporate non-citizen entities with citizen's rights accountable. And not in the Lou Dobbs slap-on-the-wrist mode, either. Threat of company dissolution seems like a prudent deterrent to me. Fines don't work, and personnel can be swapped so easily. Things like releasing a rootkit, or half a million search records, or the commonly hidden bank hacks are just not acceptable; the risks to society are astronomical.

Remember - business is a game. We invented this game. We can change it too.

Cut her balls off!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951961)

Oh, wait.....

Let me be the first (5, Funny)

eclectro (227083) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951963)

2356894 new job
2356894 new job soon
2356894 macdonalds
2356894 mcdonalds
2356894 mcjob
2356894 postal service
2356894 going postal
2356894 guns

It was a mistake, can we move on please? (1)

MBC1977 (978793) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951964)

Whatever happen to, "I made a mistake." (be it though genuine blunder or an action percieved at the time as a good idea.)
It does happen, and crying and screaming for someone's head, makes me think some (not all), "doth protest too much."

Regards,

MBC1977,
(US Marine, College Student, and Good Guy!)

Re:It was a mistake, can we move on please? (1)

posterlogo (943853) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951983)

I tend to agree with you about the hype about it, I there definitely has to be consequences for these sorts of actions. A doctor or cop can't just say "oops" if they accidentally kill someone. Either you were evil or incompetent. Either way, there has to be consequences. In the business world it is very simple: You're Fired!

Re:It was a mistake, can we move on please? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15952108)

The timing of this 'accidental leak' is very interesting, as is your suggestion that we "'doth protest too much". It all makes me wonder if these are typical searches or if the data was massaged for political gain. Given that this corpus supposedly represents searches performed by citizens of a democratic country it makes me think that moral crusaders doth protest too much. It's not possible to justify searches for 'preteen porn', the question is should we allow monitoring and logging of every search history because of a minority?

You're a 'good guy', you tell me.

this had to happen (3, Insightful)

mrpeebles (853978) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951967)

Forget moralizing the release of the keywords. From a business standpoint, this was terrible for AOL. They are trying to reinvent themselves as an internet service rather than internet access that, among other things, is responsible for your computer security. My memory, at least, is that recent AOL commercials have all stressed in particular that buying AOL helps protect you against "viruses". Then they release these search results, and eviscerate this new image they were building for themselves. Heads had to roll.

And Justice is Served? (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951981)

This is a perfect example of the current zeitgeist (is that the right word?) where the "something must be done!" public opinion is acknowledged and someone's head HAD to roll. Maureen was "it" this time. And we're all happy. No

In 6-12 months after everyone has forgotten about it, she'll get another CTO job at 100+ times the average wage earner in the U.S.

I'd love to hear who threw her to the wolves on this one because we all know it's very rare the person that did it actually hangs.

Note to self: Finish Web 2.0 business plan to pay myself 200+ times my exploited and willing American worker salary.

BrewerDude asked the wrong question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15952000)

I think a better question is: Just how bad are things at AOL that their CTO must resign? BrewerDude is focusing too narrowly on the release of the keyword searches.

Was the release really a singular exception, or symptomatic of other problems - problems you probably wouldn't have a clue about unless you were an insider?

How did Ms. Govern's response demonstrate technical and/or managerial ineptness or incompetence on her part?

If you had to use AOL as your ISP, would you prefer Ms. Govern or her replacement to be in charge? What do you know that supports your conclusion? Is "anyone else but Ms. Govern" really a better choice?

What shortcoming in AOL's policies allowed this breach? If not their policies, shortcomings in AOL's implementation of their policies? Or their personnel?

AOL CIO (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952038)

AOL CIO OUT

LOL

Mandatory 60 minutes Interview? (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952054)

"Is this an appropriate penalty for releasing 20 million keyword search results, or is it too harsh, or not harsh enough?"

Nothing deters slacking off on one's duties better than severe punishment.

She would probably rather be drawn and quartered than face 600,000 AOL users.

Come to think of it, I could see her changing her name.

She's A Witch! (1, Insightful)

x3nos (773066) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952067)

Slashdot Mob: We have found a witch, might we burn her?
Bedemeer: How do you know she's a witch?
Slashdot Mob: Well she's dressed like one!
Govern: I'm not a witch! They dressed me up as one!
AOL Lawyers: Well, we did do the nose.
AOL Lawyers: And the hat.
AOL Lawyers: But she is a witch!
Slashdot Mob: Burn the witch!

Re:She's A Witch! (1)

Bushido Hacks (788211) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952205)

She weighs as much as a duck! BURN HER!

for the love of joe pesci (1)

aoism (996912) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952117)

How many males do you guys know by the name of Maureen?

two events (1)

clancey (21516) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952122)

How do you know the two events are associated?

Appropriate Outcome? Class action lawsuit (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952155)

Lots of very personal information made public through simple lack of respect for customers.

 

you know what (1)

crashelite (882844) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952157)

any one who uses aol should be shot in the 1st place.

but in all reality what happened was actually REALLY good. when Google didnt allow the gov to access its search records they had damn good reason and this action supports what google did to the fullest. this also leads us all to realize what NOT to do... 1 use AOL 2 use ISP search engin. 3 proxy or VPN if ur doing things u dont want traced back ASAP

Not Long (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952158)

Govern joined the company last September.

Didn't take her long to screw up Big Time!

An appropriate penalty would be... (1)

shoma-san (739914) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952177)

...releasing his home address so that viloated AOL users could send their AOL CD's to his house with a termination of service notice attached to it.

Harsh enough? (1)

jafac (1449) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952179)

Here's harsh enough:

Have him defend himself, in a court of law, against 20 million plaintiffs.

Oh well (1)

FishandChips (695645) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952180)

Probably the only job open to her now is that of Official Keeper of the Glorious Counter-Counter-Revolutionary Bush. The Official Keeper's duties are to comb the breadcrumbs from Richard Stallman's beard each morning, and to bear it before him, resting it tenderly on a bed of cloth of velvet, at all official functions of the FSF. Unfortunately, a highly complicated dispute involving several professors at law, as to whether "breadcrumbs" refers only to home-made organic bread or also to the superheated patented supermarket dough known as "bread", is likely to mean that even this opportunity may not be available to her.

It's the right thing to do (1)

Error27 (100234) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952185)

If I screwed up like that, I'd feel terrible. Resigning is pretty much the only appropriate response. Resigning means that you don't blame anyone else for your problems. Plus it gives you a break where you can go hiking in the wilderness and heal a bit. After that you can start over with a clean slate.

/kickban Maureen_Govern (1)

Bushido Hacks (788211) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952189)

/kickban Maureen_Govern
/block !*Maureen_Govern*ATaolDOTcom

Harsher? (1)

The Dalex (996138) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952198)

I don't see how anything harsher could be warranted. As far as I've understood, there is no expectation of privacy when doing a web search, and the release of the records has simply been a breach of AOL's privacy policy (versus an illegal act). The only way any of the searches could be traced back to the user was a direct result of the unprotected information the user knowingly sent over the internet. IF the CTO knew about the release of records beforehand and let it go forward, she should be canned, nothing more or less. If the CTO did not know about it, it is easy to argue that she allowed it to happen on her watch and could have stopped it through better policies, training, etc. In either case, resignation was probably her best option.

Shot self in foot? (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952211)

I suspect that, when the search results were leaked, Mr. CTO's was on that list too. I bet he found it hard to explain why he was spending several hours each day searching for "hot barnyard action".
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