In the Ashley Madison story, it really is hard to know who to root for. Here we have a website that was directly involved in facilitating sexual affairs between married strangers.
I mean, having an affair is a personal choice, one often borne of heartache and confusion, but this Canadian website made a nice profit by encouraging people to have affairs and then making it much easier for them to do it. Not really an honorable business model or one that anyone should emulate. The site is at the edges of the “dark web.”
Now, along comes the “Impact Team,” a group of self-appointed moralists. There is very little more annoying than self-appointed moralists. In any case, this group successfully hacked into the Ashely Madison website and pulled out the contact information of virtually every single user. After trying to extort the site into shutting down, they released the information into the public web.
And lives will be ruined. Many of them were going to be ruined anyway, but this is a nasty, nasty way to insert yourself into the private lives of other people.
I certainly can’t root for these people.
The only silver lining may be that the disclosures have led to a public discussion of the fact that adultery is still illegal in 20 states, and in some states it’s still a felony.
Like my home state of Massachusetts.
Now, it should go without saying that there are many things that have been criminalized that shouldn’t have been, and adultery is one of those things. We now live in the age of no-fault divorce, and in reality, there is nary a state that has enforced it’s laws against adultery. But they shouldn’t be on the books anyway.*
I feel sorry for the users of Ashley Madison and I don’t. They made the decision to cheat on their spouses, and that decision will generate a lot of heartache of their own making. There may be a few people who signed up for the service but never used it. And people make these decisions for a lot of personal reasons, and expected to have privacy around that decision.
It just underscores what many of us already know: if the data is out there, somebody is going to use it. No data is safe anymore, that’s pretty clear. If you don’t want your privacy violated, don’t go online. It’s as simple as that.
*This question, of what should and shouldn’t be criminalized, is likely to be the subject of a future post.