Right now, across the world there are millions of people – and I’m going to suggest they’re mainly men – who are quietly freaking out at the possibility that their online dalliances weren’t quite as private as they thought.
I’m talking, of course, about Ashley Madison. The website that encourages people to have an affair has been hacked, and a small list of user names and details have been revealed.
Super conservative Christian Josh Duggar has been named and shamed amongst the site’s users. He quickly released a statement apologising for his “sins”, in which he said, amongst other things, that he has “been the biggest hypocrite ever” for “espousing faith and family values (while being) unfaithful to my wife”.
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I think we can all agree that he’s been a hypocrite and a lousy husband. Really, the latter is none of our business – what anyone does in their own lives and within their own marriage (abuse notwithstanding) is their business.
What I have a real issue with is the fact that Josh has made it his business, quite literally, to insert himself into other people’s marriages.
He was formerly a high-ranking employee of the Family Research Council, a very conservative Christian lobby group that is pro-life, pro-marriage and pro “defending religious liberty, the unborn and families”.
He has actively campaigned for laws that restrict rights for LGBT people and their families, under the guise of promoting the sacredness of traditional marriage.
It seems that Duggar is all about protecting the sanctity of marriage between man and woman – but he doesn’t respect it enough to consider his own marriage vows particularly sacred or valuable.
I don’t feel much sympathy for Duggar at this point. Yes, his life is crumbling around him in very public fashion, but he’s ultimately just being forced to deal with the consequences of making some supremely bad decisions.
The bigger concern for me is the fact that this hack has happened in the first place.
The website will surely be out of business before long; when you make your money by facilitating discreet hook-ups between willing yet amarried parties, and your website data is compromised, it will be difficult to regain public trust.
But what about the next hack? What if, instead of a dodgy dating website, it’s a website that deals with private medical data, credit card information or national security that is hacked? Already, this hack has had some consequences that could prove life-threatening for those come hail from countries where homosexuality is illegal.
The Australian government already stores our metadata, while Google and Facebook make billions of dollars off of our searches and usage patterns. Just by using the internet, we are subjected to appalling invasions of our privacy for corporate profit.
That is what we should be outraged about.
And this Ashley Madison hack should be a lesson to all, reminding us that absolutely nothing you do online is anonymous.
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