Is this the biggest and most damaging data leak in history? There is no doubt that many thousands of people will be complaining about the release of their personal data though the affairs dating website, Ashley Madison. This involves the release by hackers of personal information about 32 million people interested in cheating on their partners including their email addresses and places of work in some instances. Despite a judge recently finding in the case of an injunction that having an affair is no longer shocking in society, people using the website would have a reasonable expectation that their data would be protected, particularly given the assurances given by the website about deletion of data, and will no doubt say that their lives have been ruined and their reputations badly damaged by this data being leaked. In some cases, including government and military officials, their lives may have been put in danger. There are also email addresses linked to the White House and NASA, as well as the Vatican and the United Nations and senior professors at top universities, local government employees and civil servants in the UK.
Coincidentally I received an email from MumsNet yesterday informing me that their website had been hacked and advising all to change their passwords. It is not just Ashley Madison that needs to protect its users’ data. Other dating websites also include people who may not in fact be single and who are taking a risk of their identities being exposed. Dating websites need to comply with the ADR Directive and provide details of an ADR provider to their customers to deal with unresolved complaints such as regarding breaches of contract not just in relation to data theft, but also for example, complaints regarding match making, which will be interesting to mediate!
This is also illustrative of the dire state of the institution of marriage and the divorce lawyers will now probably have an influx of work, leading to more family mediation.
Stop Press:- Doriana Silva, who worked at Ashley Maddison’s headquarters in Toronto, Canada, tried to sue the firm after claiming she suffered repetitive strain injury (RSI) after being given a month to input 1,000 bogus memberships.
There are reports of two suicides resulting from exposure and a man who claims that the companies caused him emotional damage by failing to adequately protect personal and financial information from theft has begun legal action in Los Angeles alleging that Ashley Madison and parent company Avid Life Media were negligent, invaded his privacy, and caused him emotional distress. It seeks unspecified damages. The legal floodgates are about to open causing a bonanza for lawyers.Disclaimer: The information and any commentary on the law contained in this article is for information purposes only. No responsibility for the accuracy and correctness of the information and commentary or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by the author. The information and commentary does not, and is not intended to amount to legal advice to any person on a specific case or matter. The article was written on the date shown and may not represent the law as it stands subsequently. For the avoidance of doubt, the views in this article are personal to the author and not attributable to any other individual or organisation.