- The Washington Times - Friday, July 21, 2017

A federal judge has approved an $11.2-million settlement between hacked hook-up site Ashley Madison and users exposed by its massive 2015 data breach.

U.S. District Judge John Ross gave preliminary approval Friday to a settlement resolving claims brought on behalf of Ashley Madison users affected by the headline-grabbing data breach that resulted in their personal information being published online.

The settlement was announced last week by Ashley Madison’s current parent company, Ruby Corp., and is slated to be the subject of a final approval hearing scheduled for Nov. 20, The Associated Press reported Friday.

Account details pertaining to roughly 37 million Ashley Madison users wound up online after the website suffered a data breach in July 2015. Several sued, alleging poor security practices, and their cases were consolidated in St. Louis federal court.

Advertised as a website intended for users pursuing extramarital affairs, the data breach drew considerable media attention by outing account holders and spurred a slew of lawsuits, including several brought on behalf of individuals still wishing to remain anonymous, James McDonough III, an attorney for the users, told AP, in addition to former customers exposed despite paying the website to have their information purportedly purged prior to the breach.

Lawyers plan to place ads in magazines and elsewhere reaching out Ashley Madison users looking to collected on the settlement without publicly exposing their identity, the AP reported. Mr. McDonough wasn’t sure how many victims will seek compensation, but said he expects affected users to collect anywhere from $19 to $2,000 apiece, the report said.

Another attorney for the users, Douglas Dowd, called the settlement “fair and reasonable” for both sides, the AP reported.

Ruby Corp. denies any wrongdoing and has “agreed to the proposed settlement in order to avoid the uncertainty, expense, and inconvenience associated with continued litigation,” it said in a statement.

The company agreed last year to pay $1.65 million in penalties to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to resolve a government probe and pledged at the time to “refrain from past business practices that may have allegedly been misleading to consumers.”

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