Adultery website Ashley Madison has been hit with $500 million in lawsuits, each battling it out for class-action status. According to a report on Wired.com, two of these lawsuits were filed this month in California, another was filed in Texas and a fourth was filed last month in Missouri. Last week, a lawsuit was filed in Canada as well, which is where Ashley Madison’s parent company, Avid Life Media, is based.
Failure to Protect Consumer Data
The U.S. lawsuits have all been filed by anonymous plaintiffs, either Jane Doe or John Doe, who allege that Ashley Madison and Avid Life Media breached a contract, failed to protect consumer data and violated state privacy laws. The lawsuits allege that the companies knew their networks were not secure, which seems to be supported by internal documents and emails leaked by the Impact Team, hackers who have breached the data. These internal discussions show that the parent company was aware of vulnerabilities in their networks including technical issues that could lead to a data breach and the accompanying legal issues.
The lawsuit filed in Missouri states that the plaintiff paid a $19 fee to have the company delete her personal information from its servers, but failed to deliver on that service. It’s now up to the courts to determine which of these U.S. lawsuits should get class-action status if any. If one of them does get class-action status, it means that any other lawsuit against Ashley Madison alleging similar violations would be absorbed into that single case.
How to Protect Yourself
Canadian police are warning that the public should not click on links claiming to provide access to the leaked Ashley Madison database. By clicking on these links, you are exposing your computers to malware, spyware and viruses. There are also criminals out there who are trying to extort money from Ashley Madison users by threatening to expose that they are on the list, unless payment is received.
Cancel any credit card used with Ashley Madison or any other site to try and find names of its users. Even though Ashley Madison supposedly included only the last four digits of people’s credit card numbers, it would still be in your best interest to cancel the card and replace it with a new one. In the future, anyone who does not want their name associated with a website can use a prepaid card that doesn’t have a name on it.