Ashley Madison cheaters told they cannot anonymously sue the website over hack
April 25, 2016
Shah Sheikh (1294 articles)

Ashley Madison cheaters told they cannot anonymously sue the website over hack

A GROUP of exposed Ashley Madison users have been told they will not be able to anonymously sue the site after their personal details were publicly released.

When hackers stole the data of users last year and subsequently dumped it online the story made lasting headlines around the world.

As the public combed through the data, a number of celebrities and politicians were implicated, an untold number of relationships were affected and at least two suicides were linked to the hack.

But those on the receiving end of the infidelity weren’t the only victims, according a group of 42 plaintiffs which sought to sue the website for not adequately protecting their information.

According to court papers, the plaintiffs in the suit filed in Missouri wanted to remain anonymous in order “to reduce the risk of potentially catastrophic personal and professional consequences that could befall them and their families”.

The irony of the plaintiffs seeking to conceal their identity in a complaint over the leak of their identities was not lost on the judge.

“Moreover, the personal and financial information plaintiffs seek to protect has already been released on the internet and made available to the public,” Judge John Ross wrote in the ruling earlier this month.

Among the grievances for the plaintiffs was the fact that the website marketed a “full delete removal” service that did not actually purge user account information from the depths of its database.

They were also mad that the site used fake female accounts in an effort to lure men to the site.

In cases of sexual abuse or other sensitive matters plaintiffs are frequently given a pseudonym in court proceedings. However as The New York Times noted, previous cases in the US have deemed that embarrassment is an insufficient reason to prioritise anonymity over transparency in the judicial system.

The company which owns the cheating website, Avid Dating Life Inc., argued that the sexual preferences and sexual habits of the users did not constitute information of the utmost intimacy required to afford them the condition of anonymity.

As such, the judge ruled that those wishing to sue the website were not allowed to be known as John Doe.

In class action suits launched against the website, those who wish to represent the class of plaintiffs must identify themselves while the rest of the class members who are not actively involved in the proceedings do not have to disclose their identity, the judge ruled.

To date, eight plaintiffs have sued the website using their names.

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