Is there a positive to hackers releasing the personal information of over 35 million people; including their credit card information? I have to say no.
A breach of information safety
Doxing a person on the Internet is the equivalent to turning the dogs loose on a defenseless child. The act is wrong and a complete breach of privacy and safety.
On such a large scale as with the Ashley Madison profiles, millions of identities are in jeopardy of being stolen by cunning opportunists. Sure, you can make your judgments about the site users. You can even go so far as to say that they deserve whatever they get, but these people had their privacy stolen from them by a hacker group with some twisted moral agenda. Infidelity definitely belongs in the “wrong” column, but the users are the only ones getting hurt, not the CEOs and website founders.
Internet privacy is a fallacy
Such an act shines the light on one fatal flaw we as a people choose to ignore: Internet privacy is a fallacy. The Ashley Madison users had put sensitive information into the site that links back to not only themselves, but also their family and financials. To have full access to the site and all of its bells and whistles, a user has to pay. This is no different than entering your credit or debit card number on Amazon.
Let’s use Amazon for some perspective: A jilted consumer buys a bum product using Amazon Prime and goes on a personal vendetta to bury the product. They break in to the Amazon system and blast millions of users sensitive financial and home information all over the Internet for the rest of the world to see.
Is this okay?
Having a moral objection to another person’s private life (which in no way affects your own) and then destroying said life because of those objections does not give you the ethical high ground no matter what you tell yourself.
The need to protect private information
Maybe the upside of all of this comes from exposing the fallacy of Internet privacy to the world. Perhaps, the consequence of the Ashley Madison fallout will be the mass population finally learning to protect their private information and not be so free with it online.