The AOL thing turns out to be big news, complete with EFF recriminations and a mea culpa from AOL execs. Eszter blogs about the research dilemma over on Crooked Timber. But the secondary effect is the more difficult one.
It’s already hard to get most organizations to part with their data, even in the best of circumstances. I suspect, however, that this has been implanted in the minds of most IT-related firms, and someone in the PR department or the executives offices are busily crafting memos to the research folks requiring them to jump through 85 hoops in order to allow anyone to see their data ever. Of course, it’s an over-reaction, but I will bet anything that this is what is happening. The idea of transparency is a difficult one for businesses as it is. This event just cements that tendency.