Worries About Exposure May Keep Many Ashley Madison Members From Suing Over Hacking

August 20, 2015 – In The News
The Associated Press

Scott L. Vernick was quoted in The Associated Press article, “Worries About Exposure May Keep Many Ashley Madison Members From Suing Over Hacking.” Full text can be found in the August 20, 2015, issue, but a synopsis is below.

Ashley Madison members may need to think twice before suing over the website’s hacking, as those who decide to take legal action will likely reveal themselves to be one of the website’s members. In addition, just like in any breach, the members would need to prove they were harmed in some way in order to collect damages.

“I’d be surprised if you get a lot of traction here,” says Scott Vernick, a noted privacy attorney.

Vernick noted that the information posted by the hackers was initially put on the “dark web,” a section of the Internet that is difficult for most average web users to reach.

Regardless, Vernick says most courts have ruled that people can’t sue a breached company just because they face the possibility of credit card fraud or identity theft. The potential humiliation of Ashley Madison users who have their information leaked to the public also is probably not enough in the eyes of the courts to allow lawsuits to move forward, Vernick notes.

Courts typically only grant anonymity in cases under special circumstances, such as when a child is involved, Vernick says, which could deter many affected in the breach from filing lawsuits. Potential embarrassment likely isn’t enough to justify anonymity, according to Vernick, and such a request would likely have strong opposition from defense attorneys.

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