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AOL, whose research department recently released search records to the public (much like the records they showed the government earlier this year), issued an apology today for the gross violation of its users' privacy.

In its apology, AOL notes, "there was no personally identifiable data linked to these accounts." But as one activist tells CNET, since most people search their own names, IDing them shouldn't be hard. And once you attach a user number to a name, you can build a nice profile of their search habits.

AOL promises to investigate and make sure this never happens again, which probably doesn't reassure those whose records are already public.

In other news, AOL is offering to host 5 GB of your private information for free! What a deal!

AOL apologizes for release of user search data [CNET]
Earlier: Find the scariest AOL user search record