Gee, what a great company. Why would anyone want to harm it?
The unidentified hackers who stole damning customer information from the adultery-facilitating site AshleyMadison.com are finally posting the data online. A huge data dump was posted on August 18, and another on August 20. The files include account details and log-ins for some 32 million users of the social networking site, which calls itself the premier site for married men or women seeking partners for affairs. They include seven years of credit card and other payment transaction details, going back to 2008, millions of payment transactions, names, street address, email address and amount paid, but not credit card numbers.
“Ashley Madison is the most famous name in infidelity and married dating,” the site asserts on its homepage. “Have an Affair today on Ashley Madison. Thousands of cheating wives and cheating husbands signup everyday looking for an affair…. With Our affair guarantee package we guarantee you will find the perfect affair partner.”
Nice. I named this scummy site an Unethical Website of the Month on the old Ethics Scoreboard in 2005, writing in part,
Adultery leads to shattered families, ruined finances, psychically damaged children and deep emotional scars all around. Most if not all spouses will eventually find themselves in a vulnerable state where unhappiness, anxiety, and stress have them primed to make an impulsive and ultimately destructive decision to pursue an illicit relationship. These are the times when people need good advice, counseling, and perspective. These are the times when AshleyMadison.com instead offers the tools they need to tear apart their commitments, vows and lives: secrecy, betrayal, selfishness, and irresponsibility…Yes: it is all legal. But inducing people to hurt others while subjecting themselves to the risks of remorse, financial ruin, and even violence is far worse than many crimes…
America is having enough trouble keeping its families together without having slick web sites working to tear them apart.
Observations:1. This couldn’t happen to a more deserving company. By all means, let’s catch and prosecute the hackers. As for the harm they did to Ashley Madison: good.
2. Regarding the company’s clients: nobody should have any sympathy for them whatsoever. They were cheating, lying and doing harm by definition, and to those who loved, trusted and depended on them. Their wrong is far greater than the wrong done to them, and without their wrong, no wrong could have been done to them.
3. The AP reports:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hundreds of U.S. government employees – including some with sensitive jobs in the White House, Congress and law enforcement agencies – used Internet connections in their federal offices to access and pay membership fees to the cheating website Ashley Madison, The Associated Press has learned.
The AP traced many of the accounts exposed by hackers back to federal workers. They included at least two assistant U.S. attorneys; an information technology administrator in the Executive Office of the President; a division chief, an investigator and a trial attorney in the Justice Department; a government hacker at the Homeland Security Department and another DHS employee who indicated he worked on a U.S. counterterrorism response team.
Are these cheaters trustworthy, or fit to serve in the government? No. I can understand, sympathize and to some extent accept, the spontaneous, unintended passionate adulterous affair that is neither planned nor sought. It is not, at least, premeditated, and that is a mitigating factor. This conduct, using AshleyMadison.com, isn’t motivated by love, but by a desire to betray. I don’t want government officials who are in the habit of betraying others. If they will betray their families, why would they hesitate to betray me?
UPDATE: Attorney Jay Wolman explains the strong class action case AshleyMadison.com users now have.