In defense of the cheating scumbags caught up in the Ashley Madison hack

Opinion: Everyone has a right to privacy -- even immoral and stupid people.

How's your morning going, so far?

You're probably finishing up your coffee, blasting some music out from your cheap Apple headphones, and strategizing how your day will pan out. Just be thankful you're not the poor bastard who woke up this morning with a plastic bag full of his underwear thrown in his half-awoken face, as his partner stomped around the bedroom with kids crying in the background.

A lot of people today are going to have a very bad day -- perhaps a life-changing day.

In case you missed it ("How could you?" which is incidentally what thousands of spouses said to their partners this morning), here's what you need to know., a website that urges its users to "have an affair," suffered a significant data breach in July. It was thought the hackers took the site's entire stash of customer data, around 37 million users, which they threatened to release to the public.

On Tuesday, almost a month after the breach was reported, the hackers made good on their promise.

The cache of data is legitimate, and has been verified to a high level by a number of security experts. The data in the cache, however, is not verified, and, in some cases, falsified. That's because didn't force users to verify their email addresses, meaning anyone can use the service with a government email address or anyone else's Gmail account.

That's going to make proving and disproving a person's membership to the site difficult, if not impossible. It won't stop the witchhunt though.

Tech tabloid editors are foaming at the mouth, just thinking about finding something that'll implicate someone they know. You'll have hundreds, if not thousands, of people downloading the torrent file to see if their loved ones, or boss, local priest, sister, father, scout leader, or public figure's names are in the cache. It's hard to feel even a morsel of remorse for any cheating hack husband, wife, or partner who gets caught out.

But, even the worst people in this society should expect -- and deserve -- privacy.

Every ounce of my being hates to say it, but it's a foundation on how we live our lives: These people deserve privacy as much as anyone else. We don't have the right to pick through a haystack of names and email addresses to see who's doing what behind closed doors.

You might say, "They shouldn't have signed up in the first place." But that's the same logic that if you didn't want your credit card information leaked, you shouldn't have used a bank with poor security practices. It's a staggeringly naive viewpoint, one that's not too dissimilar for those who argue that they have "nothing to hide."

Everyone has a right to privacy. It doesn't just keep our information safe, but it helps us be the people we want to be. Without privacy, we're always being watched. Without privacy, we can't have private discussions or experiences that shape our views, opinions, and thoughts that better society. Without privacy, we can't express ourselves as who we want to be. Privacy either exists, or it doesn't.

Today it's cheating spouses, tomorrow it could be you.


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