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Dating site Ashley Madison agrees to pay $1.6M over massive data breach

“Today’s settlement closes an important chapter on the company’s past," the CEO of the site's parent company said Wednesday.

By
Doug G. Ware
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday announced it had reached a $1.6 million settlement with Canada-based dating website Ashley Madison -- in connection to a massive data breach in July 2015 that compromised personal data for millions of users, regulators said. File Photo courtesy Federal Trade Commission
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday announced it had reached a $1.6 million settlement with Canada-based dating website Ashley Madison -- in connection to a massive data breach in July 2015 that compromised personal data for millions of users, regulators said. File Photo courtesy Federal Trade Commission

WASHINGTON, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Internet dating website Ashley Madison has agreed to pay $1.6 million to settle charges tied to a major data breach last year, federal regulators said Wednesday.

The parent company of the Canada-based website, ruby, concurred with the settlement terms after federal regulators said it failed to protect personal information of 36 million users in numerous countries.

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Personal information contained in the website is particularly sensitive because Ashley Madison markets itself as a cheating website. For years, its tagline was, "Life is short. Have an affair."

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The U.S. Federal Trade Commission launched an investigation after a massive data breach occurred in July 2015.

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"This case represents one of the largest data breaches that the FTC has investigated to date, implicating 36 million individuals worldwide," FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a statement. "The global settlement requires AshleyMadison.com to implement a range of more robust data security practices that will better-protect its users' personal information from criminal hackers going forward."

The settlement agreement requires the site to implement a comprehensive data-security program and pay a total of $1.6 million to settle FTC and state charges. Half was paid to the FTC and the rest to states involved in the matter.

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The breach was initiated by a group called "The Impact Team" and threatened to release names of customers, search histories and credit card information if the site wasn't shut down.

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"Today is a pivotal day for our members and for Ashley Madison," ruby CEO Rob Segal responded in a statement. "Today's settlement closes an important chapter on the company's past and reinforces our commitment to operating with integrity and to building a new future for our members, our team and our company."

As part of the settlement, neither ruby or Ashley Madison admits to or denies the charges made by federal regulators.

"Creating fake profiles and selling services that are not delivered is unacceptable behavior for any dating website," Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell said. "I was pleased to see the FTC and the state attorneys general working together in such a productive and cooperative manner."

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