Though mired in controversy, Ashley Madison is a dating site with a difference. Well, to begin with, it helps facilitate adultery and cheating.The ‘dating service’ site that boasts of ‘38,920,000 anonymous members’ was hacked last month by a group named Impact Team. The hackers stole data which reportedly included names and payment information, pictures and sexually explicit chat logs.Following the site’s owner – Avid Life Media (ALM) – refusal to shut it down, the hackers released nearly 10 GB (compressed file size) of data.Not so anonymous now, huh?What did Impact Team (the Hackers) Want?The Impact Team claims ALM lied to its customers about a service that allows members to completely erase their profile for $19. The information is retained, according to them, and the feature “netted ALM $1.7mm in revenue in 2014.”Avid Life Media has been instructed to take Ashley Madison and Established Men offline permanently in all forms, or we will release all customer records, including profiles with all the customers’ secret sexual fantasies and matching credit card transactions, real names and addresses, and employee documents and emails.— Impact TeamALM Decides to Hit BackAvid Life Media said it is cooperating with US and Canadian law enforcement agencies to catch the culprits and check the veracity of the information released by Impact Team. They have also sought help from the general public.The criminal, or criminals, involved in this act have appointed themselves as the moral judge, juror, and executioner, seeing fit to impose a personal notion of virtue on all of society. We will not sit idly by and allow these thieves to force their personal ideology on citizens around the world. We are continuing to fully cooperate with law enforcement to seek to hold the guilty parties accountable to the strictest measures of the law. — ALM statementSome People Didn’t Even Know They Were on Ashley MadisonColumnist Farai Chideya has an interesting account of how a man created an account on Ashley Madison using her name and email address. \nTurns out, the site doesn’t require users to verify their email addresses. It is difficult to imagine how many of the 36 million accounts must be fake.I’m just another Farai – female, American and not cheating on anybody. But I’m troubled by how easy it is for someone with a similar name or username to link his account to mine on Gmail. I wonder what my South African doppelgänger is worried about right now. — Farai ChideyaOne person apparently used former British prime minister Tony Blair’s work e-mail to register an Ashley Madison account. Don’t JudgeComputer security expert Graham Cluley warns against believing in what you see int he database.For one thing, being a member of a dating site, even a somewhat seedy one like Ashley Madison, is no evidence that you have cheated on your partner,” he wrote. “You might have joined the site years before when you were single and be shocked that they still have your details in their database, or you might have joined the site out of curiosity or for a laugh […] never seriously planning to take things any further.Big Business Plans ScuttledCoincidence or not, ALM had big plans for Ashley Madison with an initial public offering in London this year. Owner ALM wanted to raise as much as $200 million to exploit booming demand for its services.\nThe company also expected 50-60% of its sales to come from Asia by 2020.Europe is the only region where we have a real chance of doing an IPO” because of its more liberal attitude toward adultery.— Christoph Kraemer, Head, International Relations, ALM to Bloomberg in April, 2015The Impossibility of Perfect PrivacyThe Awl’s John Herrman lays down the larger implication of Ashley Madison hack on ethics and relationship between humans and their devices in this digital age. Here were millions of people expecting the highest level of privacy that the commercial web could offer as they conducted business they likely wanted to keep between two people (even if a great number of the emails are junk, or attached to casual gawkers, the leak claims to contain nine million transaction records). This hack could be ruinous – personally, professionally, financially – for them and their families. But for everyone else, it could haunt every email, private message, text and transaction across an internet where privacy has been taken for granted.That Awkward Moment It is likely that the leaks have led to many awkward and strained conversations. Buzzfeed’s Ellen Cushing relates one with her ex partner after she found his email address in the Ashley Madison database.[…] he just seemed to not want to talk about it. I tried to ask him if he’d signed up while we were together and he changed the subject. I made a joke, and then he made a joke. We talked about data security, and a radio show we’d once listened to together, and work, and the recent vacations each of us had taken with our respective new people. We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated. The Quint is now available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, Click here to join.