Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today joined with 12 other states, the District of Columbia and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in a settlement with Ruby Corp., which owns the AshleyMadison.com website.Among those exposed by the breach was Republican Rep. Mark Lowery, in the news this week for his new legislation to make it harder for people to vote with a voter ID law. Lowery said he thought it was just a dating website and said he was looking to meet people while going through a divorce. He won re-election despite use of that against him in opposition mailers.
The company will make an immediate payment of $1,657,000, split between the states and the FTC. Arkansas will receive $52,829.69. The remaining $17.5 million is suspended based upon Ruby Corp.’s inability to pay a further amount, which is demonstrated through financial disclosure documents.
“While I do not condone the activities of those who joined the Ashley Madison website, it is my job as Attorney General to take action when Arkansans’ data is breached,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The false actions taken by this corporation were wrong and exposed countless members to potential fraud.”
In addition to monetary penalties, Ruby Corp. agreed to cease engaging in certain deceptive practices, to not create fake profiles and to implement a stronger data security program.
The Ashley Madison dating site catered to individuals wishing to engage in extramarital affairs. In July 2015, the site was hacked and millions of Ashley Madison members’ user information, including photographs, usernames, email addresses, communication and other profile information was posted online. In the wake of the security breach, it was discovered that the website had created thousands of fake user profiles, misrepresented the strength of its security and sold a “full delete” option, which it did not carry out in all instances.