Category: Social Media Law

Ashley Madison faces $500 million in lawsuits following hacker attack

The Ashley Madison hack has dominated headlines for more than a week now. Since a group of hackers identifying themselves as “The Impact Team” first released personal information of the site’s users last August 18, many news outlets, websites, and blogs have given their two cents regarding the situation.

Security Breach

A few of the pieces that came out about the Ashley Madison hack focused on the high-profile users that have been discovered through the hack, while others focused on the astounding number of fake accounts and the fraudulent use of the email addresses of individuals that haven’t used the site at all. Now, Wired adds a new angle to the news about the hack, reporting that at least four lawsuits have been filed in the U.S. against the infamous cheating website.

At present, two lawsuits have been filed in California, a third in Texas, and another one was filed in Missouri last July when the Impact Team initially threatened Ashley Madison’s parent company, Avid Life Media. Wired also reports that another suit has been filed in Canada, where operations of Avid Life Media are currently based.

According to Wired, the four lawsuits filed in U.S. are all battling for recognition as class action status. The lawsuits were also filed by anonymous plaintiffs seeking damages due to “breach of contract”, “negligence in protecting customer data,” and “violation of various state privacy laws.” One of the plaintiffs is alleged to be seeking over $500 million in compensation. The lawsuits all assert that Avid Life Media have failed to appropriately protect the personal information of their clients despite knowledge of vulnerabilities in their systems.

Social Network Sites after Death

Over a billion people across the world have created a profile on the social networking site Facebook. Millions of people also use other social networks such as Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, and a number of other sites.

Logging on to these sites has become a daily habit like taking a shower or eating a meal, but what happens to someone’s accounts after he or she is no longer living? It is a question that many people think about and has even grabbed the attention of lawmakers in New Hampshire and other states.

Earlier this month, State Rep. Peter Sullivan introduced a bill that would give control over a deceased’s social networking pages to the executor of the estate. This includes one’s Facebook, Twitter, and additional accounts like Gmail to be passed to the executor of one’s estate in the event of death.

Sullivan is proposing such a bill in order to provide a sense of peace and closure to family members that lose a loved one. He said the bill would also prevent any form of bullying on a deceased’s Facebook or Twitter page.

Along with New Hampshire, five other states, including Oklahoma, Idaho, Rhode Island, Indiana, and Connecticut, have legislation dealing with one’s online and digital presence after death.

Currently, there are online services available such as Entrustet, Legacy Locker, and My Webwill, so individuals can pass on digital assets and account information to trusted sources. People can also speak with a probate lawyer.

The Social Network All Over Again

Pinterest, the social media platform which allows users to create boards on which they can “pin” their favorite online media, has become the subject of a lawsuit leveled against the company and one of its first investors, Brian Cohen. The lawsuit alleges that the concept and technology for Pinterest were not original creations, but rather that Cohen and his business partners stole the idea from another site, RendezVoo, with which Cohen was also connected.

The suit has six total causes of action that it alleges harmed RendezVoo’s founder, Theodore Schroeder, who filed the suit. Overall, Schroeder is seeking an award of more than $75,000 in damages which, in consideration of the considerable success Pinterest has found, seems fairly insignificant in the long run. However, Pinterest’s business attorneys are still planning a defense against the suit, though it’s quite likely that the suit will eventually be settled out of court, much as the strikingly-similar Facebook case eventually was.

Americans With Disabilities Act

A ruling last week in the case National Association of the Deaf (NAD) v. Netflix, Inc. took the unprecedented stance that websites are obligated to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by ruling in favor of the NAD regarding their assertion that Netflix should be required to close-caption its online video library. The key issue in the ruling is the assertion that a website qualifies as a “place of public accommodation” and as such is subject to the ADA just as a brick and mortar shop is required to provide accessibility options such as ramps and handicapped accessible restrooms.

Many lawyers believe that this interpretation of the law could open up a variety of new opportunities for holding companies accountable for discriminatory actions. With this ruling as precedent, plaintiffs could sue websites for failure to make any online property accessible to disabled individuals, requiring significant changes to many websites and other online entities which are currently used by millions of Americans daily but are inaccessible to blind or deaf individuals.

Unfortunately there are many instances where citizens go against the Americans with Disabilities Act. If a person ever experiences this sort of unfair treatment, either in the workplace, or through another service industry, employment and some injury lawyers may be able to take your case.

Somebody in the UK court system…

has finally admitted out loud that it’s possible that a tongue in cheek tweet about blowing up the airport if they don’t open back up in time for your flight does not constitute a direct terrorist threat. This case could provide a new precedent for how social media postings are treated in a security context.