The personal data of 39 million people was leaked late July from a hack of Ashley Madison, an extramarital-affairs website.
— The Age (@theage)
Okay. So maybe it wasn’t quite 39 million people.
Regardless, a lot of people were affected. By the sounds of it, most may not even get what they paid for.
On the 23rd of August, it was revealed that two Canadian law firms have launched a class action lawsuit against the companies that run Ashley Madison, on top of multiple other class action lawsuits worldwide.
Let’s look at the Ashley Madison scandal from a legal perspective
1. Their advertised strong data security was not, well, secure.
The users of Ashley Madison, no doubt, want the highest level of discreteness and secrecy. Ashley Madison took it one step further, having a one-time fee “Full Delete” service that promises to erase all personal data (or so they thought).
Granted, a “Full Delete” wiped out a person’s name, email and profile information. However, it retained other information including gender, ethnicity, age, height, enough information to supposedly identify a person.
2. What was Ashley Madison in breach of?
Aside from cybersecurity and data protection privacy law, Ashley Madison may have also been in breach of consumer and contract law. A lawsuit was filed in Missouri claiming a breach of contract when a person’s information was not deleted after the fee was paid for a “Full Delete”.
3. The data dump has led to an increase in calls to lawyers.
Matters range from divorce to enquiries into rights.
4. Ashley Madison has been proactive in seeking legal recourse too.
They have been active in sending copyright takedown notices to file-sharing and social media sites. Downloading the data may also be illegal as the information was obtained through illegal means, and could amount to a breach of privacy laws.
Reports have surfaced that people have been blackmailed regarding the leak. If you are affected by the hack or would like more information, contact us on 1800 LAWPATH.
Let us know what you think of the Ashley Madison case as it develops by tagging us #lawpath or @lawpath.