Ashley Madison is back in the news. A little more than a year ago, when the adultery dating site was in the news for a couple of weeks I put down some thoughts on the mater but didn’t post them. I had some posts scheduled, and once they had run Ashley Madison had faded from the news. It seemed like a topical post and I didn’t see the point of sharing “old news.”

Then this past week Canada’s Privacy Commissioner published a report slamming Ashley Madison for the lackadaisical ways they treated sensitive customer information. So I decided the topic is once again newsworthy enough to share.


My credit card woes pale in comparison with those suffered by millions of people this past couple of weeks. There are some reported suicides as a result of a data breach at dating site Ashley Madison.

You would think that an organization that promotes marital infidelity would have better security than NATO, given the sensitive nature of the information. The data breach would seem to show that there really is no secrecy on the internet.

I read a report where police cautioned that the suicides may not have been related to the incident – suicides happen every day after all. But certainly the whole rationale behind such sites is secrecy. Exposure for most people would be embarrassing.

The data leak was embarrassing for Ashley Madison in a different way. They will be sued (I believe some lawsuits have already been filed) and it will be interesting to see how those suits play out). Certainly the company has taken a huge public relations hit – infidelity usually I would think requires a certain amount of discretion. There may be a few wives and husbands who are okay with philandering, but for most of us it is a marriage breaker. By not ensuring that their data was secure, the company has certainly lost the trust of its customers.

The data leak has had at least one positive aspect though. It has exposed some of Ashley Madison’s lies.

The company had claimed 189,000 members in my hometown of Ottawa, proclaiming it the adultery capital of Canada. Supposedly one in four adults had signed up for an affair. The truth is quite another matter. The leaked records show about 500 Ottawa members of the site. So much for the advertising claims. Ashley Madison’s parent company, of course, still insists the company has millions of paying female members. I doubt many people believe them. Certainly it is reassuring to discover that fidelity is more important to Ottawa residents than Ashley Madison would have had us believe.

I won’t waste time commenting on the morality of a website devoted to promoting marital unfaithfulness. If there is a buck to be made someone is going to do it, and if people get hurt in the process, well that’s just part of doing business.

Still, perhaps there is one positive aspect of this data leak. With Ashley Madison in the news, perhaps adultery and its wrongs is more of a topic for public discussion, and also perhaps inside families. My guess is that adultery usually happens in a communication vacuum; talking about it should be a good thing.

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