Recently, hackers made waves online when they managed to obtain and publish the private information of thousands of accounts on AshleyMadison.com, a Toronto-based website that purports to assist users in having an affair. Though many have since expressed a view of the hack as the well-deserved punishment of errant partners, Two Canadian law firms have a slightly different take. Charney Lawyers and Sutts, Strosberg LLP have filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Canadian Ashley Madison customers whose information was released, arguing that the hack was a breach of not just data, but intensely personal and sensitive information that could damage thousands of reputations and businesses.
The lawsuit itself charges that Ashley Madison’s parent companies, Avid Dating Life, Inc. and Avid Life Media, Inc. should have been able to properly protect customers’ information against the hacking group, reportedly called “The Impact Team.” Not only were users’ names, email addresses, credit card numbers, and other personal information released to the public, but in many cases the exposed users had paid additional fees to have their information deleted from the site–something that exposed users quickly found out didn’t happen. In the interests of the outed victims of the breach, the two law firms are suing Ashley Madison’s parent companies for a hefty total of $578 Million.
Of course, in order to take part in the class action suit, affected individuals would need to come forward and admit to having been on the list of exposed users. This, some experts say, could stop the entire lawsuit in its tracks. Even so, with over 30 million members worldwide, even a fraction of brave users could mean big trouble for the site. Although this is the first suit brought against Avid Dating Life, Inc. and Avid Life Media, Inc. in their own country, similar suits have already been brought by plaintiffs from the United States.
Facing both the ire of the site’s detractors and now mounting legal issues, only time will tell what will become of Ashley Madison in the long term.