Over at The Awl, John Herman writes about the Ashley Madison hack. The data from this hack appears to be close to being easily searchable by the public, and while the consequences of that have been joked about, they deserve closer consideration:
I’m not sure anyone is really reckoning with how big this could be, yet. If the data becomes as public and available as seems likely right now, we’re talking about tens of millions of people who will be publicly confronted with choices they thought they made in private…Here were millions of people expecting the highest level of privacy that the commercial web could offer as they conducted business they likely wanted to keep between two people (even if a great number of the emails are junk, or attached to casual gawkers, the leak claims to contain nine million transaction records). This hack could be ruinous—personally, professionally, financially—for them and their families.
While it would be easy to say that the people who used this site deserve whatever happens, the fallout from this hack will affect far more than just the users and the implications for the future are also well-worth considering.