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January 22, 1998

AOL ADMITS IT WAS WRONG TO GIVE MEMBER INFO TO NAVY

By CBR Staff Writer

America Online Inc has publicly acknowledged that it gave away personal information about one of its members and says it regrets the mistake. But AOL also claims that a Navy investigator used deceptive tactics to receive information about the members, which it then used to initiate discharge proceedings against him. AOL says the investigator posed as a friend of Timothy McVeigh to confirm information the Navy had gathered from other sources. The information concerned an AOL screen name which McVeigh had used to send email. A personal profile associated with the screen name described the user as a homosexual. AOL has apologized for giving out the information, describing the incident as a human error which clearly should not have happened. For its part, the Navy says that it had gathered enough evidence to begin McVeigh’s discharge on homosexuality grounds even without the AOL-provided information. It still plans to discharge McVeigh, who has filed suit against Naval authorities over the matter.

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