Everyone knew that the Ashley Madison leak bode ill for relationships worldwide, and the UK is no exception.
It’s now emerged that divorce proceedings have begun as a result of a huge data dump of user information from the affair-facilitating Ashley Madison dating website being posted online.
That’s according to the Times, which reports that spouses are already considering terminating their marriages with their potentially unfaithful partners.
Nigel Shepherd, a partner at family law firm Mills & Reeve, says a married woman has already been in touch after finding her partner’s details amongst the leaked Ashley Madison records.
“If someone finds out if their partner is set up on a site which exists wholly for facilitating adultery, it’s hardly surprising they are taking advice about it,” explains Shepherd.
Similarly, Chris Longbottom, head of family law at Shoosmiths, said his law firm has received three calls a day relating to the Ashley Madison leak since the information was originally confirmed to have been compromised, as reported by the Telegraph.
What’s more, relationship counselling service Relate has also revealed it has started taking calls from individuals that have found their partners’ information within the compromised Ashley Madison data.
The leak has brought up “lots of difficult emotions” for those involved, according to Relate counsellor Denise Knowles.
“Even if you haven’t been directly affected, the coverage may have prompted you to start questioning your own relationship,” says Knowles.
Two Canadian law firms have already filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all Canadian members of the site, targeting Ashley Madison’s parent company Avid Life Media Inc.
Experts have warned that it’s likely many new lawsuits will follow, particularly as the website had members from many different countries.
“The interesting thing about the incident is that recent court decisions in the UK have been leaning towards the view that a claim can be brought when no financial loss occurs but where a person experiences distress as a result of a data breach,” Luke Scanlon, technology lawyer at Pinsent Masons, said speaking to the Telegraph.
He continues: “In the case of Ashley Madison, which is reported has 1.2 million subscribers in the UK alone, if each were to try to claim for £1,000 in compensation, Ashley Madison could see itself incurring costs of up to £1.2 billion. Even if claims for distress in this case are modest, the sheer volume of data breached and individuals affected in this attack could have a critical impact on the company.”
Lawsuits are an unsuprising consequence of such a significant data breach, as the effects on individuals exposed in the breach could be serious.
For instance, The Hill reports that the Pentagon is already looking into the leak of thousands of US military e-mails registered with the site.
Adultery within the US military is a prosecutable offence.
Related: Best Web Browser 2015
It’s worth noting that a second Ashley Madison data dump, twice as large as the first, was released last night.
However, this time the dump was intended to cause trouble for execs in charge of Ashley Madison.
For instance, a 13.4GB compressed file embedded in the leak contained details from the email inbox of Ashley Madison CTO Noel Biderman.
There are a number of tools (1,2) that allow anyone to check if an e-mail was involved in the breach, although we should warn that just because an e-mail turns up doesn’t mean an individual actually cheated, or even signed that e-mail up themselves.
Do you know anyone affected by the Ashley Madison data breach? Let us know in the comments.