Ashley Madison Hack Exposes (Wait for It) a Lousy Business
By Julia Greenberg
August 21, 2015
All of which means, whatever the site’s claims, its apparent gender imbalances probably isn’t enough to call it a scam. “In the law, there’s this idea of puffery. Salespeople, and that’s what they are, are allowed to exaggerate,” says Hofstra University law professor Miriam Albert.
“A saleslady at Lord and Taylor says, ‘That dress looks awesome on you,’ when in reality, you’re packed like a 10-pound sausage into a 5-pound casing. She’s allowed to say that and you can’t sue her for it because you’re not relying on her to make the purchase.”
Similarly, there were some women on the site, so even if there weren’t as many as Biderman publicly claimed, the difference may not be enough to deem it fraud. “If what they’re really saying is ‘It’s evenly split,’ and someone went into it with that basis, I bet you could get your money back,” Albert says. “I’m just not sure it rises to the level of actionable fraud. It’s the cusp between puffery and fraud. It’s a slippery slope.”
Yet the site could be at risk for legal action over its failure to protect the private information of its users—especially those who paid $19 to erase all trace of their connection to the site.
“This is going to be a big legal mess because, putting aside the morality of it, they promised to keep this information safe, and what the lawsuits are going to look at is, did they do enough?” says Albert. “No court is going to require them to guarantee strict liability that no one could ever get to it. It’s really going to come down to what they did, and did they do enough.”