America Online will pay up to $5 million in damages to settle a class action arising from allegations that it made publicly available the search histories of over 650,000 customers. Think about whether you’d want the world to know what you’ve searched for on the Internet. I am going to guess that the overwhelming majority of my readers would like to keep that private. I suspect that’s why most devices I know of offer a “clear history” function in the first place. A Virginia based federal court issued final approval of the settlement late last month.

The obvious lesson from the case is to be careful with customer data. Most readers probably have a sense that their customers’ personally identifiable information needs to be protected to guard against identity theft. But don’t forget about privacy concerns too!