Ashley Madison tries to stop the spread of its leaked data

The Ashley Madison hack explained
The Ashley Madison hack explained

Ashley Madison is in full damage control mode right now.

The hacked dating website dedicated to helping married people have affairs is trying to stop the spread of its customers' data by going after people who have posted or shared links leading to the leaked information.

Over the past two days, Ashley Madison has issued copyright takedown notices to multiple sites, including Twitter. The company has also gone after smaller sites that published parts or all of the database of 32 million customers, claiming that the "intellectual property in the data" was being infringed upon.

Many of the sites are complying with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act requests.

Twitter (TWTR) took down a tweet from a journalist at Vice "in response to a report from the copyright holder."

The tweet contained an internal seating chart "setting out the names and locations of all employees in the [Ashley Madison] Toronto office," according to the DMCA complaint.

Ashley Madison requested two other tweets to be removed because they included screen shots of Ashley Madison's financial spreadsheets that apparently contained no crucial details. Twitter did not remove those.

Twitter submits DMCA notices that it complies with to Chilling Effects, an independent research group that studies online takedown requests.

Reddit banned an Ashley Madison Hack subreddit, where some of the data was uploaded, but the company has not yet commented on why it was taken down.

The developers of CheckAshleyMadison.com shut down their search tool after being served with a DMCA takedown request too. The site had helped Ashley Madison users find out if their personal and financial information was released.

"We hope that Avid Life Media will follow-up in the coming days with some sort of help to their userbase and a formal apology, rather than try to sweep it under the rug," they wrote on their website.

Avid Life Media is the Canadian company behind Ashley Madison.

Hackers first attacked the site about a month ago, threatening to release user data if the "deceitful" service didn't shut down. They made good on that promise on Wednesday.

Whether or not that data can be copyrighted is causing a huge debate now. Some say Ashley Madison has also gone too far with its takedown notices, accusing the site of hindering reporters from doing their jobs.

"Journalists will cover the extent of your breach whether you like it or not, ‪#‎AshleyMadison‬," Daniel Gutierrez, a software developer, said on Facebook.

Others attacked the company for using the legal move as a way to continue protecting its own interests, and not the users.

"They use rule of law and a band of lawyers with DMCA takedowns to "protect" their customer data. Customer data that they kept, even after collecting the money to delete the profile," mused Chris Hughes, a self-proclaimed hacker. "So wait, you're telling me that the website you signed up for to cheat, cheated you, and now they use the rules to protect you..."

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