A Tale of Two Hacks: How Ashley Madison’s Legal Woes Differ from Sony’s

September 4, 2015 – In The News
The Hollywood Reporter

Scott L. Vernick was quoted in The Hollywood Reporter article, “A Tale of Two Hacks: How Ashley Madison's Legal Woes Differ from Sony's.” Full text can be found in the September 4, 2015, issue, but a synopsis is below.

Similar to the hack of Sony Pictures in November, the cyberattack against Ashley Madison has quickly led to lawsuits, with at least six complaints already filed against Ashley Madison’s parent company, Avid Life Media.

While lawsuits from both instances included plaintiffs alleging the hacked companies did not do enough to protect their information and ignored threats from hackers, the lawsuits differ when examined more closely.

While the Sony lawsuits don’t run the risk of plaintiffs seeking to remain anonymous, the Ashley Madison lawsuits have been filed under aliases, though there is no guarantee the court will allow the plaintiffs to stay anonymous.

Ashely Madison plaintiffs will have other advantages, however. “In some ways it's a lot easier to prosecute the claims,” says Scott Vernick, a noted privacy attorney. According to Vernick, the litigants will face less difficulty in proving legal standing and damages on several claims.

In January, Vernick told The Hollywood Reporter that Sony could defend lawsuits by claiming the plaintiffs should file for workers’ compensation in a separate court, but there will be no such out for Avid Life Media, which is being sued by customers and not employees.

Ashley Madison plaintiffs also will not face the same level of difficulty in proving actual damages as the Sony employees, as some Ashley Madison users paid a fee to have profiles deleted, but the company reportedly never deleted personal information of those users.

“No problem with demonstrating an injury there,” says Vernick. “That's a real, tangible out-of-pocket loss.”

Click here to view the full article.

This article was also featured in Billboard.