Ashley Madison


Word on the internet is that people who were trying to cheat on their spouses, using the internet, have fallen victim to the internet.

How do I feel about this? - Disillusioned.

Not about people cheating.  Please.  You don't have to be a lawyer to know this, but people CHEAT. You don't have to practice family law to know this wisdom.

In the case of cheaters, generally, it's not a question of if. It's a question of when? with who? how often? for how long? ... and in my case: who cares?

If my husband cheated on me, I'd be sad (read: angry and litigious), but, aside from the usual 5 minutes of coffee shop chit chat, it would be forgotten by all (except me... I hold grudges forever).

Cheaters are of little consequence to me. Instead, this whole Ashley Madison affair (oh, puns!) has caused me to be disillusioned with hackers.

In my brief time on this planet I've met some people who were involved in the "under-belly" or "dark side" of the internet. The majority of those I've met have a playful and healthy problem with authority. They often push the limits of legality (by which I mean they usually break the law), but their activities rarely involve people getting hurt or having their lives ruined. Worse case, the hackers I know have caused some difficulty for a civil servant somewhere in another country. I'm being vague on purpose.

My personal experience with hackers, combined with the more famous socially conscious hacks have caused me to view hackers like this...

Don't let it go to your head, hackers. I also sometimes view you as Dennis the Menace.

 As a nerdy little girl, I liked Batman because he was a problematic "good guy" - Superman always seemed very one-dimensional and was born with the super-power equivalent of a silver spoon in his mouth, but I digress - this is a debate for another time. Just like with Batman, I understood hackers in terms of dichotomy. Bad hackers. Good hackers. All was black and white.

Now my world is shattered. *slight melodrama* 

I knew this day would come. I just didn't think it would involve a bunch of unsatisfied, middle-aged housewives who hate their husband named Carl.

When Ashley Madison was hacked and the data dumps began (and were confirmed), people relished in the titillating information. Who went on that site anyway? What kind of weird, kinky stuff were they into? The whole fiasco has been a real tabloid-esque type deal.

I have no problem with this and must admit I was entertained.

Except then people started mentioning the word hack-tivism. "They (the people who had their private information exposed) deserved it"... the story instantly gained a moral / cautionary tale element. As though the hackers who released the Ashley Madison data were somehow justified in doing so.

Ashley Madison's original CTO, Raja Bahatia, has commented on the moral element of this story. He said,

“This event is not an act of hacktivism, it is an act of criminality. It is an illegal action against the individual members of, as well as any freethinking people who choose to engage in fully lawful online activities [...] We know that there are people out there who know one or more of these individuals, and we invite them to come forward. While we are confident that the authorities will identify and prosecute each of them to the fullest extent of the law, we also know there are individuals out there who can help to make this happen faster.”

This is not the equivalent of a "we prosecute shoplifters sign" in a change room. I expect that Ashley Madison will do everything in their power to make good on these threats. They have to. They deal in flesh and confidentiality.

Kind of like lawyers... minus the flesh part.... I feel dirty now.

I am inclined to agree with Bahatia's characterization. This is straight up criminal activity.

But... but... look at this face:

Now that is a saintly headshot.

Some hackers have used their skills to expose government secrets the citizenry has a right to know. Do governments look over their shoulders now? Maybe... and "maybe" is better than NO.

Is Edward Snowden a criminal? Yes. Sigh. Just like Batman would be charged with assault, battery, destruction of property, and all manner of weapons charges.

Does the end justify the means?

This is an open question with Snowden.

Now. I don't want to lump all hackers into one group. That is untrue and unfair. Instead, I'll direct this post/rant to the hackers responsible for the Ashley Madison fiasco. I'll call you "Hackers".

I have to level with you, Hackers. You've used your incredible power for something tawdry and, worse, kind of mundane. As if it was news that people cheat. As if it was news that they use the internet to do it.

Excuse my sarcasm when I say,

                 How shocking!

                 Look, I've dropped my monocle in my water glass and have clutched my purls!

Hackers, you've used the single most important democratizing instrument since the Gutenburg Press to release a big ol' list of cheaters.

                Good for you.

You're like the brilliant doctor who could cure cancer and then became a Private Eye instead because of your very odd obsession with Veronica Mars (forgive me... Veronica and I had a Netflix reunion not long ago).

I'm disappointed in you, Hackers. 

Maybe you were trying to show that nobody is safe, thereby further frightening the government into being honest with its citizens (unlikely).

Maybe you were trying to beat it over our heads that companies can and do maintain data they promise they've deleted and that user agreements usually allow this (pfft... nobody reads those things!).

Maybe you were trying to punish Ashley Madison for their $20 fee for a "full-delete" that didn't actually delete anything.

Maybe you were bored and wanted to make some money.

It doesn't matter. Hackers, you're a cheap gossip who has told everybody you know what you know. Just on a bigger scale.

Have you hurt the company? Yes.

Have you hurt the cheaters? Yes.

With great power comes great responsibility.

I expect cheaters to cheat. I expected more from you, Hackers.

(also... please don't make me your hobby)

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