At first it is hard to feel sorry for all the 32 million people exposed in the Ashley Madison hack. They should have known better. And some of them, mostly the women, were apparently not even real. But the reality of the impact sets in with tragic suicides and people losing their jobs, in addition to many others in relationship counseling or divorce court. At the time people signed up, many took what seemed to be prudent precautions to protect their identity, but now they are panicked, trying to find out if they are exposed.
One of the potential motives for the attack is revealed by Ashley Madison's extortion scheme that generated $1.7 million in revenues by charging customers $19 for a "Full Delete" that didn't even actually delete. Personal information should be private and under the control of each person. All the privacy policies that corporations post are worthless if corporations don't delete personal data upon request.
In the era of Big Data, most companies are saving everything, convinced that the bigger the data dump, the more valuable it will be. Significant advancements have been made by analyzing big data with new tools, but a database of want-to-be cheaters does not contribute to the betterment of humankind.
Sometimes data just should not be kept. Delete does mean delete.
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