Ashley Madison, the website caught in a web of alleged cheating, is swamped under multiple lawsuits worth $500 million, which could be awarded class-action status, according to wired.com and theglobeandmail.com.
Last month, a group of hackers called the Impact Team hacked into Ashley Madison’s website and were able to download private information such as names, home addresses, emails, message history and financial data of registered users. This private information was posted publicly online recently.
In response to this, there were many lawsuits filed against Ashley Madison in different states of the US including California, Texas, Missouri, Georgia, Tennessee and Minnesota. Another lawsuit was also filed in Canada, where Avid Life Media, the parent company of Ashley Madison is headquartered. The plaintiffs are seeking class-action status to include all the 37 million registered users of the website.
The Canadian lawsuit was filed by Eliot Shore, an ex-customer of Ashley Madison, for US$578 million, reports wired.com. Shore claimed that he had signed up for a short while after his wife died of breast cancer; however, he never met anyone nor was he cheating on his wife. All the US lawsuits are petitioned by anonymous individuals who are claiming damages alleging contract breach, negligence in safeguarding customer data and privacy violations.
All the plaintiffs allege that Ashley Madison and Avid Life Media knew of the security loopholes and vulnerabilities in their systems. These allegations seem backed by internal documents and leaked emails which have been reportedly hacked by the Impact Team, the group that accepted responsibility for hacking the website. The plaintiffs also allege in their lawsuits that Avid Life had pre-knowledge of technical issues that could have a potential security impact and the associated legal issue too.
Additionally, the Missouri plaintiff claims that a payment of $19 was made to Ashley Madison for deleting personal data from the servers but the company has failed to deliver the service, the lawsuit alleges. The courts will decide whether the US cases can get class-action status which means that any new lawsuit with similar allegations of violations against the website would be taken under a single case.
Customers of Ashley Madison Face Potential Threats
Wired.com also reported that because of the loss of personal data, the customers of Ashley Madison face various potential threats including divorce, loss of job and embarrassment too. Job losses are more imminent for the US Government employees who were accessing Ashley Madison data from their official workspaces and IP addresses. However, customers from the military are exposed to something more sinister; imminent court-martial because of adultery.
From the hacked information, there were emails of 2012 from a military prosecutor with a subpoena requesting for details for an adultery case. The military prosecutor, 2nd Lt Austin Booth emailed to Mike Dacks, general attorney to Avid Life Media, asking for release of private information such as profile information, uploaded and downloaded images, billing history and message history of an accused in an adultery case, reported wired.com.