Posted on Aug 28, 2015

The hack of the Ashley Madison adultery website has outed thousands of Loudouners from every corner of the county, including at least one locally elected official and one high-level deputy with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.

Known as the Facebook of cheating, the site philosophizes “Life is short, have an affair.” Hackers last week released names, street addresses and email addresses of tens of millions of subscribers across the globe.

Among them were as many as 15,000 federal employees and active duty military. Government agencies reported Tuesday that they’re combing through the email addresses of possible adulterers to determine if their activities are punishable.

Rules are murky on what kind of participation in online, morality activities warrant discipline or what should be considered matters of personal conduct. Most government offices restrict the personal use of work computers or servers. Those who used military addresses to access the Ashley Madison site could face disciplinary action since adultery can be a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

However, it could be hard to prove that an affiliation with Ashley Madison translates to an affair. 

Most of the information released in the cyber-attacked disclosed email addresses and credit card transactions on the site. Lists have sprouted throughout the Internet disclosing those accounts, many state-by-state or county-by-county.

While the Times-Mirror has received requests to publish names of public officials from Loudoun County who were outed by the leak, the newspaper has chosen not to do so. 

“We’ve reviewed the lists and accounts and cannot report with certainty that any public official who may have been represented by a leaked email account violated any rules of office,” said Dale Peskin, executive editor of the Times-Mirror. “For now, we view these as personal matters.”

Public officials and law enforcement authorities may face scrutiny from county agencies or political affiliations about the morality of participating in the cheating site and how that might relate to official duties or to political platforms that include “family values.”

The Ashley Madison leak has already resulted in a surge of calls to divorce lawyers. Attorney Van Smith, of Smith Strong PLC, and author of “ Divorce and Custody in Virginia,” told news organizations that he is receiving as many as 10 calls a day from people seeking a divorce relating to the hack of the Ashley Madison website.

The leak disclosed the email addresses of a reported 36 million people. According to Business Insider, records were disclosed in all but three ZIP codes in the U.S. : Nikolai, Alaska, population 94; Perryville, Alaska, population 113; and Polvadera, N.M., population 269. There are reportedly only 10 Internet connections in the three towns.


H. Van Smith
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