By Trevor Law
The internet is a wild and wonderful place; full of information, pictures, facts and people you would normally have never had access to. Yet to the surprise of exactly no one this wondrous invention has been used for perverted, and down right freaky ends. If you doubt the internet is weird, just look up Shrek is love. Warning do not click on that link unless you want to be horrified.
The Ashley Madison hack is just the latest example of something the average person never had to deal with before this age. You see the hackers that broke into Ashley Madison did it to blackmail the company. The company refused and so the information was dumped online. Now there are ways of searching online to see if someone has used Ashley Madison. Even 30 years ago the idea of just doing an hour of digging on your couch to confirm if your significant other was cheating was unthinkable, and now it is the norm.
This raises an interesting point, can anything really be a secret online? I mean really? Those IMs you sent as a teenager, that video you made to your boyfriend that was only for him, those hateful messages you left on an anonymous message board? Anything that is stored anywhere could potentially be front and center of the next big hacking scandal. Even your emails are at risk, both corporate and private, and if you doubt that, just ask Sony, Google, and the N.S.A. just how secure all of their servers are, and then ask if that information will never be at risk from now until the end of time. They would be forced to say of course not and then you will be wondering who, or what will throw all your secrets online and then who will turn all of that information into a nice little search engine for you.
Then you get to the even bigger question of what then? I mean right now the next generation of leaders are producing mountains of dirt on themselves. I have no doubt that candidates will have to deal with everything they every tweeted or facebooked, and the inevitably that some of them have nudes out there somewhere. Keep in mind that while this is going on some states are cracking down on revenge porn. Pictures and videos sent to husbands, boyfriends, etc and then when they break up they put it online. That leads to all kinds of interesting territory about who owns what, and what kind of legal protections they have.
In Europe they even have the right to be forgotten. After a certain time you can demand sites take you information down and all mention of you to be stripped away from the internet. After all who wants their name mentioned in a high profile murder investigation or a sex scandal. Imagine you are a 20 year old who has an affair with a married congressman, and then from that day on anytime someone googles your name that is the first thing that pops up. A world in which the single dumbest thing you ever did defines you and follows you everywhere, and becomes one of the very first things everyone knows about you.
That is the world the internet has created and while we mock, and oo and aw over the Ashley Madison leaks, keep in mind that this is only the beginning. Who knows what messaging apps could be storing, or heck even normal dating sites. It is important to take a step back when looking at this technology, what can we do with this, what should we do with this, and where is it heading?
It is all moving so insanely fast that both the enforcement of laws, and the legal code itself are being left way behind. If I am falsely accused of a crime, do I have the right to sue Google for defamation of character if the first thing that comes up is an out of date story about how guilty? Ashley Madison is being sued for getting hacked. If they had the same level of security, or even a high level of security should they be held accountable for it? What if they had no security? What is their liability then? I have no freaking idea but its an interesting question, one that we should figure out quickly before the next big hacking scandal breaks.