When (if) the dust settles and the hackers responsible for the Ashley Madison breach are brought to justice, they’re likely to face a long list of charges, a Canadian news outlet has revealed.
The hacker or the team of hackers involved in the Ashley Madison data breach and the subsequent leak could face a laundry list of charges, if and when the police identifies and arrests them, reports CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation).
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Toronto Police insists that investigations into two unconfirmed suicides related to the breach and leak of Ashley Madison customers’ data are currently underway. Criminal lawyer Michael Lacy weighs in, noting that even if the deaths are related to the breach, no charges will be levelled against the hacker or the hackers. Not in Canada anyhow.
“It requires more than simply putting something out there that causes someone to believe that they have no choice but to take their own life,” he explains.
A Substantial List of Charges is Likely
When the investigation concludes, Lacy expects a complicated process of deciding which charges to lay, and where.
Since Avid Life Media or ALM (Ashley Madison’s parent company) is based in Toronto, Lacy believes that those accused of the breach could be potentially charged with:
- Theft, due to proprietary interest in others’ data.
- Mischief to property applies to anyone who “obstructs, interrupts or interferes with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of the property,” states the Canadian criminal code.
- Mischief in relation to computer data, a separate charge entirely.
- Extortion, because of the demands of ‘Impact Team’ who demanded the takedown of Ashley Madison and Established Men, both owned by ALM. The team of hackers threatened to release all customer records including member profiles, credit card information, real names and addresses and more if both websites weren’t “offline permanently in all forms.”
- Criminal harassment, “depending on the way in which it has been leaked or published,” Lacy explains.
- However, the malicious hackers behind the Ashley Madison breach could face a whole raft of additional charges because of Ashley Madison’s presence in multiple countries around the world.
Charges could be brought forward in any country where the website operates and is subject to the country’s laws.
Furthermore, the jurisdiction also extends to state laws in the U.S., beyond just the federal law. Karen Eltis, a professor at the University of Ottawa and a specialist in internet and privacy laws points to the fact that financial laws and extortion crimes face different laws in different states.
The location of the alleged hackers, where they carried out the breach and subsequent leak, will also matter.