Ashley Madison Facing A $760 Million Class Action Lawsuit Over Hack

Ashley Madison
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The bad news just keeps coming for Ashley Madison.

The adultery dating site was hacked last month by a group calling itself The Impact Team. At the time of the security breach, The Impact Team threatened to release customer records online if Ashley Madison was not shut down.

Avid Life Media (ALM), which runs Ashley Madison and other dating sites, did not back down and the hackers made good on their threat. More than 30 million email addresses and credit card numbers have been exposed, including those of notable figures in entertainment and politics.

In the wake of the leak, things have only gotten worse for Ashley Madison. There are reports of suicides that may be tied to the hacking scandal. Avid Life Media is offering a $500,000 reward to anyone with info that leads to the arrest of the hackers. The company is also facing a $760 million class action lawsuit over the data hack.

Eliot Shore, a widower from Ottawa, is the plaintiff in the suit filed this week in Ontario against Avid Life Media and Avid Life Dating, a subsidiary that runs Ashley Madison. The legal action alleges that the privacy of thousands of Canadians was breached when the hackers infiltrated Ashley Madison.

"Numerous former users of AshleyMadison.com have approached the law firms to inquire about their privacy rights under Canadian law," the law firms Charney Lawyers and Sutts, Strosberg LLP said in a statement. "They are outraged that AshleyMadison.com failed to protect its users' information. In many cases, the users paid an additional fee for the website to remove all of their user data, only to discover that the information was left intact and exposed."

Lawyer Ted Charney told VICE News that around 100 people have expressed interest in joining the class action so far, noting that anyone who registers will remain anonymous.

It will be up to a court to decide whether Ashley Madison did enough to protect its customers. David Fraser, a Halifax-based internet, technology, and privacy lawyer, thinks the class action faces “a bit of a challenge.” He says the Ashley Madison terms of service are "decidedly consumer unfriendly" and "completely covered their butt."

There may even be a question over whether this can be a class action at all. Ashley Madison's terms preclude customers from filing such suits, but consumer protection legislation in Ontario protects the right to do so.

Either way, it won't be the end of the issue for Ashley Madison. The Associated Press reported that another lawsuit seeking class action status was filed in the US days after the hack became public.