I have been fascinated by the Ashley Madison data hack scandal. Avid Life, the owners of Ashley Madison, are so screwed. I predict they will go out of business in the near future. There is no way anyone in their right minds who subscribed to Ashley Madison would ever go back to that website. Because there now exists a permanent Internet record of multiple databases and files of the Ashley Madison operation, it will serve as a long-term reminder to others that Avid Life and Ashley Madison cannot be trusted. Their reputation is now toast.
News media large and small have been, with glee and enthusiasm, swarming all over and reporting on the contents of the Ashley Madison hacked data files. I figure if the general media can get in to do this, it should be fair game for an independent publisher like me to do so. There is one uninformed USA Today reporter, Elizabeth Weise, who thinks otherwise. “Why you shouldn’t download the Ashley Madison database“. This woman has revealed herself to be technically illiterate trying to scare ordinary people into thinking it is somehow “dangerous” to do so because of malware and spyware. It wasn’t that difficult at all. She even found one dumb sap of a so-called “expert” into offering the quote that the data may be “copyrighted”. As Founder and Operator of ExtortionLetterInfo.com for seven years now, I know something about what is “copyrightable” and what is not. Avid Life will not be able to copyright their data. It is way too late for that. The toothpaste is out of the tube and there is no way to put it back in. Quite simply, they are fucked and so are many of their users ESPECIALLY if they are married and in high-profile positions.
Avid Life basically screwed themselves irrecoverably when they lied to the public claiming permanent data deletion and charging many of its users for that fake service. Vigilante hacker(s) “The Impact Team” punished Avid Life by proving it was a fake service by publicly dumping gigabytes of Ashley Madison data for the world to access and see. Needless to say, this was equivalent to setting off an atomic bomb on Avid Life. The radiation and fallout continues to cause ripples of embarrassment and unhappiness throughout the world.
I am not a programmer or hacker but I do have enough technical knowledge to view their credit card transaction files. There is essentially one credit card transaction file for each calendar day that goes back to 2008. However, there are no complete credit card numbers in the data so there is that small relief. The data records are very detailed and damning because it is one thing to use an alias as a screen name, but when it comes to actual credit card payment submission, one has to submit their true name and verifying information that includes city, state, and zip code.
For me, the ability to sort these records by city, state, and ZIP code is a powerful capability and potentially huge leverage against potential enemies who might want to get the wiseguy idea to attack me. I have been primarily focused on seeing if there are any familiar names in Columbus, Georgia. In the few files I checked, I didn’t see any names I recognized but I am confident I will eventually find names I will recognize. When I do find those names, I have no immediate plans to publicly report them. The one exception to that are people who have attacked me and tried to harm me in the past. If I find embarrassing information on those people, I will not necessarily abide by my pledge to use the information defensively as opposed to offensively. The information will likely be recorded quietly and stored away for a “rainy day”.
I don’t go out of my way looking for trouble but I have had people like Marietta Poet Linda Ellis, Seattle Attorney Timothy B. McCormack, Columbus GA Attorney Elizabeth W. “Betsy” McBride, John W. Jolin, and others over the years, who have tried to attack, cheat, and embarrass me to suppress my First Amendment rights. My First Amendment rights include freedom of the press and bloggers rights. News media and tabloids worldwide have been going to town on the Ashley Madison hacked data files. As a general rule, I am choosing to take a more restrained approach and use it as an insurance policy and defensive tool, not an offensive or attack tool to unnecessarily harm of embarrass someone.
Given that the Ashley Madison website sells itself as a tool to assist people in having affairs, married people and their spouses have a lot to worry about given the legal contract they entered. Naive people think marriage is just above love. Fortunately or unfortunately, there is a big financial component involved in most marriages and that is one reason why marital affairs are so destructive. The betrayal of trust stinks and it causes emotional damage. That emotional damage inevitably leads to financial consequences (which tend to be more extreme for the better-heeled, higher-earning, higher-net worth individuals).
Unmarried people can cheat on one another also but it is not generally an “affair” in the sense that Ashley Madison promotes and there is not a financial contract that has been entered into.
For the news media and tabloids, they view the Ashley Madison data hack story as an opportunity to generate more clicks and sales. For me, I view the Ashley Madison data hack as a potentially powerful resource that I can access if necessary. It might one day be an insurance policy against any sleazy person who might try to do a number on me.
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