The owners of "extramarital dating" site Ashley Madison have tentatively agreed to pay $11.2 million to settle a class-action lawsuit from members whose accounts were hacked.
In July 2015, the controversial site — marketed toward those who wanted to step out on their spouses, goading them with the slogan "Go ahead. Have an affair" — saw more than 37 million accounts breached. Users' personal data was exposed, including their addresses and sexual interests.
A "cheaters list" was published that was easily found via Google and was searchable by email addresses. It resulted in at least two suicides and a number of divorce proceedings and blackmail attempts.
Those suing the company alleged it “misrepresented that they had taken reasonable steps to ensure AshleyMadison.com was secure and that the data breach resulted in the public release of certain personal information contained in AshleyMadison.com accounts and included account information of some users who had paid a fee to delete their information from the AshleyMadison.com website”.
In agreeing to the settlement, Ashley Madison's parent company, Ruby Life Inc. denied any wrongdoing. In a statement, it said that account information hadn’t been verified for accuracy, and that “because a person's name or other information appears to have been released in the data breach does not mean that person actually was a member of Ashley Madison.”
No word on whether that will free any cheating spouses from the doghouse.
The preliminary settlement still needs to be approved by a St. Louis judge.
According to the Wall Street Journal, up to 6 million individuals could be included in the group. Under the terms of the settlement, users with valid claims can receive up to $3,500, depending on how well they can document their losses that resulted from the breach.