Ashley Madison, parent company sued in U.S over data breach

Ashley Madison, parent company sued in U.S over data breach
PHOTO: Screengrab from Ashley Madison website

Infidelity website Ashley Madison and its parent company have been sued in federal court in California by a man who claims that the companies failed to adequately protect clients' personal and financial information from theft, saying he suffered emotional distress.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles by a man identified as John Doe, seeks class-action status.

The lawsuit accuses Ashley Madison and parent company Avid Life Media Inc, which is based in Toronto, of negligence and invasion of privacy, as well as causing emotional distress.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

The lawsuit follows a breach of the Ashley Madison website by a group called the Impact Team, which downloaded "highly senstive personal, financial, and identifying information of the website's some 37 million users," the lawsuit said.

The hacker group threatened to release information if the site was not shut down, and in August, when the site had not been shut down, published "stolen personal information," the suit said.

The data, which was dumped online, included millions of email addresses for U.S. government officials, UK civil servants and high-level executives at European and North America corporations.

The lawsuit claims that the data breach could have been prevented if the company had taken "necessary and reasonable precautions to protect its users' information, by, for example, encrypting the data." The lawsuit says that in addition to making "extremely personal and embarrassing information ... accessible to the public," the data breach made personal details such as addresses, phone numbers and credit card information available on the web.

Avid Life Media could not be reached immediately for a comment outside regular business hours.

Avid Life Media was sued in Canada last week in a class-action suit that seeks some US$760 million (S$1.06 billion) in damages.

The case is filed in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California No. 15-cv-06405.

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