Exposed Users of Ashley Madison Form Class Action Lawsuit

Jared Firestone

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— Updated on June 23, 2020

Exposed Users of Ashley Madison Form Class Action Lawsuit

Ashley Madison Class ActionA class action lawsuit has been filed against AshleyMadison.com, a popular Canadian website that facilitates extra-marital affairs. This is after a recent breach of the site’s data systems exposed the personal information of about 39 million current and former users.

Given the nature of the website – and the potential consequences stemming from the release of this information – two Canadian law firms have filed a $578 million class action suit against Avid Life Media, the Toronto-based company behind the site.

Ashley Madison is seeking to limit its damages. They’re arguing that membership alone is not enough to prove an extramarital relationship in fact occurred.

The site is also likely to reference its terms and conditions in its defense. All users must agree to it in order to create a profile on the site. According to the terms and conditions listed on the site: “You acknowledge that although we strive to maintain the necessary safeguards to protect your personal data, we cannot ensure the security or privacy of information you provide through the Internet and your email messages. Our privacy policy is incorporated into the Terms by this reference. You agree to release us, our parent, subsidiaries and affiliated entities and ours and their shareholders, officers, directors, employees and agents, successors and assigns from all claims, demands, damages, losses, liabilities of every kind, known and unknown, direct and contingent, disclosed and undisclosed, arising out of or in any way related to the release or use of such information by third parties.”

Many of the names and email addresses posted in the data dump don’t appear to be associated with valid accounts. However, the information is nevertheless extremely damaging. For some users, the leak exposed everything. Ranging from credit card information and geolocation data to security questions for recovering lost passwords.

The motivation for the hack appears to be moral outrage at the site’s mission and content. The group of hackers behind the breach, known as The Impact Team, released the following statement at the time the breach occurred: “It was [Avid Life Media] that failed you and lied to you. Prosecute them and claim damages. Then move on with your life. Learn your lesson and make amends. Embarrassing now, but you’ll get over it.”

In addition to any negligence claims or breach of contract, Ashley Madison may find itself liable for fraud as well. The site offered a service allowing users to delete the information the site had recorded about them for $18. Yet many people who were exposed had paid for this service.

This “paid delete” feature lies at the heart of another class action lawsuit filed against the company in July. The plaintiff in that case also alleged that her “paid delete” was unsuccessful.

Computer forensic experts will be able to evaluate this deletion procedure, as well as Ashley Madison’s general encryption systems, in determining the extent of the negligence or fraud committed by the website.

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