Illegal, but moral? Were the Impact Team right to hack Ashley Madison?

impactteam

Part of Impact Team’s message to Ashley Madison

The hacking of the Ashley Madison infidelity website by the Impact Team continues to be a major global news story.

Today it was announced that Noel Biderman, the CEO and founder of the website has stepped down from his role.

Business analysts are saying that is hard to see how the company will survive. The company face multiple law suits relating to the loss of the information. Furthermore, analysis on the leaked data has exposed the vast numbers of fake female profiles the company produced to entice men to join.

A statement from the parent company, Avid Life Media, said:

“We are actively adjusting to the attack on our business and members’ privacy by criminals…We are actively co-operating with international law enforcement in an effort to bring those responsible for the theft of proprietary member and business information to justice.”

Criminals or heroes?

But are the Impact Team criminals or heroic activists?

On the one hand, they have successfully attacked a website which on many levels was morally bankrupt.  Ashley Madison blatantly encouraged people to be unfaithful to their partners and promoting a warped philosophy that infidelity was somehow good for marriage. But it did even do this honestly.  As the evidence now shows, they created thousands of fake female profiles to lure men into parting with their cash.  The whole site was a big con.

But on the other hand, the Impact Team’s actions will have already caused prompted untold heartache and pain in thousands of people’s homes as people realise their partners used the site. People have split up, weddings have been cancelled and there have been reports of two suicides linked to the disclosures.

Illegal, but moral?

What the Impact Team did was certainly illegal – but was it morally right?

There are plenty of examples of civil disobedience which was ‘illegal’ but which we now celebrate as morally heroic. Robin Hood, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela all ‘broke the law’ but for reasons we now see as righteous causes.

And the Bible itself is full of those who disobey the ‘powers that be’ in serving a higher cause.  Think of the Hebrew midwives who disobeyed Pharaoh, Daniel refusing to obey Persian law, and Peter and Paul being regularly thrown in prison. And let’s not forget Jesus was executed as an enemy of the state.

Right or wrong?

Some peoplebelieve that what the Impact Team did was right – because they only exposed reality and unmasked corruption.  And if people had signed up for such a website then its better that their partners know.

But others will think the cost is too high – that the pain caused by exposing the foolishness of millions of men and a small number of women is not worth it.  Especially as it is a cost which will be primarily borne by families and especially children caught up in the crossfire.

What do you think? Cast your vote and if you have time, leave a comment as to why.

About Jon Kuhrt

Jon Kuhrt works with people affected by homelessness, offending and addictions at the West London Mission. He, his wife and three children are part of Streatham Baptist Church and he is a member of the Christians on the Left. He likes football...but loves cricket.
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7 Responses to Illegal, but moral? Were the Impact Team right to hack Ashley Madison?

  1. Windy_London says:

    Morality is linked to motivation.
    If the village gossip tells your spouse you’ve been having an affair then they are probably acting maliciously.
    If your spouse’s best friend makes the announcement then it is likely the motivation was to provide protection and lessen harm (although wisdom would suggest they warn the perpetrator first).
    It seems likely that there was a mix of motivations in the heart of these hackers.
    An important issue in this case is the concept of “consequenceless sin” that Ashley Madison was advertising. The truth of the matter is that going down the path of infidelity is opening a door to pain, depression, broken relationships.
    The good news is that there is grace, hope, forgiveness for immoral hackers, adulterers, irritable dads,…

    • Lowell says:

      Windy London’s comment is brilliant. Couldn’t be said better. I have no question in my mind that the infidels who signed up for Ashley Madison have reaped exactly the consequences they deserve and I have no pity for them whatsoever. And I hope that all of Avid Life Media’s enterprises get shut down. That does not necessarily mean I agree with Impact Team’s actions – nor do I hold Impact Team in very much higher regard than I do AM. They aren’t advocating morality or fidelity; they are (illegally) capitalizing on sensationalism. Shame on both sides.
      But, as Windy also pointed out, the greater, more extravagant and redemptive truth is that there can be repentance and hope for the worst of us – including even me.

      • Jon Kuhrt says:

        Thanks for your comment – but I am not sure how the Impact Team are ‘capitalising on sensationalism’ as they are all anonymous and I can’t see how they would have made any money from this…

    • Jon Kuhrt says:

      Thanks Windy – I think you are right about morality and motivations – but do you think the world is a better place for AM having been hacked like this?

      I completely agree with your point about ‘consequenceless sin’ – it resonates with my earlier article about how we should respond to those whose actions have been exposed: https://resistanceandrenewal.net/2015/08/25/how-should-we-view-the-victims-of-the-ashley-madison-hacking/

      I often need God’s grace for the irritable dad bit!

      • Lowell says:

        Quite right, John. I realize they did not do it for capital in the sense of financial gain, In American usage, I just mean they are getting something out of it- whether some kind of perverse satisfaction or a sense of working poetic justice. But, just as you questioned Windy, I am still waiting to see if anything positive comes out of this exposure. As far as anonymity goes, THEY certainly know who they are and I’ll bet they are getting their own naughty pleasure from seeing the fallout. Thanks for replying!

  2. Pingback: Jon Kuhrt on the Hacking of Ashley Madison | bonhoefferblog

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