Ashley Madison, the notorious website that facilitates infidelity is currently facing a hefty class action lawsuit by two Canadian law firms for $578 million. The extra-marital affairs website was recently entangled with a cyber-hack exposing sensitive personal information of its 39 million plus users. The website which promotes adultery is confronted by law suits from those who were guaranteed that their privacy would be upheld.
Charney Lawyers and Sutts and Strosberg LLP filed their claims on behalf of Canadians subscribed to Ashley Madison and whose sensitive information was exposed publically. It is alleged that the website AshleyMadison.com, run by the Toronto based companies Target’s Avid Dating Life Inc. and Avid Life Media Inc., failed to protect its users’ sensitive information. The law firms have confirmed that the lawsuit is not being brought against the hackers but against Ashley Madison for failing to uphold the former users’ privacy rights under Canadian law.
In data breach lawsuits, it can be difficult to establish that those involved in the data breach suffered an actual or tangible harm resulting from the breach. The controversial and sensitive nature of the information exposed illustrates the complexity of the situation. The exposition of numerous government officials worldwide and the anticipated potential for relationships to dissolve and suffer as a result of the breach exemplifies the uncertainty of how damages will be assessed.
In several instances, Ashley Madison subscribers paid an additional fee of $19 to have all of their user data removed from the website permanently, only to discover that their sensitive information was retained and subsequently exposed. This creates further potential liability on the basis that Ashley Madison may have breached their contractual obligations. If Ashley Madison allegedly retained sensitive personal information in spite of its assurance that the information would be deleted following payment, potential lawsuits for misrepresentation and/or breach of contract may arise in addition to any liability for breach of privacy.
Ashley Madison now faces a surplus of lawsuits from all over the world, with Missouri lawyers filing a class action lawsuit in the United States seeking $5 million dollars in damages and an unnamed women in the United Kingdom filing a claim against the adultery-promoting website last Friday.
Australian subscribers were not immune from the hack, with almost 1 million Australians having their personal information publically released. It is yet to be seen what the repercussions are for Australian subscribers and Ashley Madison, with some arguing that the consequences are well-deserved.
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Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: August 23, 2015.