Ashley Madison Data Breach
One of the largest data breaches in the world occurred in July 2015 when the Ashley Madison online dating website was hacked, releasing the personal information of 33 million user accounts (Ashley Madison claims it has 39 million members worldwide). In its wake Ashley Madison class action lawsuits have been filed in the US and in Canada, claiming negligence, breach of contract and privacy violations against the 'cheat-on-your-spouse' website.
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The data breach includes users' personal names, emails, home addresses and message history, which was publicly posted online. Hackers downloaded and revealed credit-card information of many US government workers, including employees in the White House, Congress and the Justice Department. In Canada personal information was revealed from computers attached to the Department of National Defence and The House of Commons. At least two suicides have been associated with the Ashley Madison data breach.
Ashley Madison Lawsuits
The lawsuits in California and Texas federal courts have been filed by people using John Doe as a pseudonym. The plaintiffs seeking damages claim that ALM did not have adequate and reasonable measures to secure the data of users from being compromised, and failed to notify users in time of the breach.
The California lawsuit , filed in U.S. District Court for Central District of California, Western Division claims that "on or about July 20, 2015, the hackers downloaded highly-sensitive personal, financial, and identifying information of the website' some 37 million users," according to NBC news. The case is No. 15-cv-06405.
A second California lawsuit filed by 'John Doe' in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles is seeking class action status. The plaintiff alleges that Ashley Madison and ALM "failed to adequately protect clients' personal and financial information from theft" and as a result he suffered emotional distress.
A Texas lawsuit filed August 21 in the in U.S. District Court for the Northern Texas District alleges that ALM and Ashley Madison should have known their computer systems were vulnerable because they had already been warned about them. The suit says that the hack revealed an internal company file stating that multiple "technical issues that could lead to a data breach occurring, as well the legal problems that may come with that."
A Missouri class action lawsuit filed in a US District Court seeks more than $5 million in damages. Jane Doe, who is seeking unspecified damages, claims she paid Ashley Madison $19 to delete her personal information from its website. The lawsuit claims negligence, breach of contract and privacy violations. They say Ashley Madison failed to take reasonable steps to protect the security of its users, including those who paid a special fee to have their information deleted. According to data researchers, users who paid the $19 "full delete" still had some details remaining on the site's databases.
A second lawsuit has been filed by a Quebec man who is represented by the same law firms representing Eliot Shore. erge Saumur will be the lead plaintiff for a class action in Montreal on behalf of all Quebec residents who subscribed to the site. Saumur, a bachelor, told CBC news that he didn't mind revealing his identity because " I'm not married, I've got no children, and I wasn't there to meet someone married...I was on that site to look for somebody single."
Avid Life denies the Gizmodo analysis. A spokesperson for the company said that "Last week alone, women sent more than 2.8 million messages within our platform", according to CBC News (Aug 31). " These numbers are the main reason that Ashley Madison is the No. 1 service for people seeking discreet relationships." Ironically, the Ashley Madison website (which is still running) boasts a "trusted security award" and "SSL Secure Site".
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