In March this year I wrote about a religious group in France who were taking legal action against a website known as Gleeden, claiming that the site’s main aim of promoting infidelity was contrary to one of France’s civil codes which compels citizens to owe a duty of fidelity to their spouse.

This week there has been another headline concerning another such website, namely Ashley Madison. A hacking group known as “The Impact Team” managed to retrieve the personal and financial details of 37 million users of this site last month and have now gone through with their promise to publish those details if the site was not taken down.

Contained within the list which was published on 19 August 2015 were the personal details of some 1.2 million UK users. Those who have spent time analysing the details were surprised to see that it contained the names of an MP from the Scottish National Party, United Nations Staff and even people with email addresses linked to the Vatican. According to the Political Scrapbook blog there were 2000 public sector email addresses published which included addresses from educational establishments, the Ministry of Defence, the NHS and even the police.

The hackers took issue with the moral values of the website and also said that they had reason to believe that Avid Life Media (who own Ashley Madison) were charging users a fee to delete their information but were actually retaining the records.

Whilst the FBI continues to investigate it is worth noting that if you find your partner named on the list is does not necessarily mean that they were a user of the site. When you register to use the site there is no need to verify your email address and this means that some legitimate email addresses might have been used without the knowledge or consent of its true owner. This is certainly what the SNP MP Michelle Thompson claims has happened to her as the email address published on the list is an address which she says has not been used for many years.

Some say that those who have had their details published deserve everything they get whilst others will lay part of the blame at the feet of Avid Life Media for not having the technology to prevent such an act. Whatever the outcome of the FBI’s investigation these recent events serve as a reminder that anything posted online will be there forever so the only advice can be that if you would not reveal your most personal and intimate details to a stranger in the street you should certainly think twice about putting them up online.

Source: The Independent 20/08/20105