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AOL breach 'would not happen at Google'

CEO says trust is number-one priority

The release of a database of online search histories that has got AOL into hot water could never happen at Google, CEO Eric Schmidt said yesterday.

"Our number-one priority is the trust our users have in us," Schmidt said, speaking at a press conference during the SES (Search Engine Strategies) conference in California. "The answer is, it won't happen."

Without going into details, Schmidt said there are security measures in place at Google that would prevent a company employee from releasing information about user search histories. "We have very sophisticated security plans for an attack on information," he said.

Schmidt added that Google is compliant with Sarbanes-Oxley and other legislation that mandates how information within the company can be shared, so there are strict controls that prevent someone from inside Google from leaking private information.

The AOL incident was not the result of an attack, however.

On Monday, a researcher at AOL accidentally released a database that contained search histories of more than 650,000 AOL users, histories that provided details into the users' personal lives. The user names or online identities were not released, however. The company has apologised for making the database public.

Though Schmidt stressed several times that AOL's release of search histories was a "bad thing", he said that such an event can serve to raise awareness about what can happen if private online user information is shared without a user's permission.

"The awareness that bad things can happen is a good thing, especially with [threats] such as identity fraud," Schmidt said.


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