Hello, I Love You, Won’t You Tell Me Your Name


In July, infidelity website Ashley Madison was hacked by a group calling themselves “The Impact Team,” which stole the company’s customer data, including e-mail addresses, names, sexual fantasies and payment card information. Soon after the data breach, which affected millions of users, lawsuits followed—many of them with “John Doe” listed as the plaintiff.

At least one of the John Does, however, must now reveal his real name to follow through with his lawsuit.

On Dec. 14, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas ordered plaintiff John Doe to remove the pseudonym from his complaint and include his proper name to keep his lawsuit alive. In his complaint, Mr. Doe alleged that Avid Life Media Inc.—parent company of Ashley Madison—was negligent in storing users’ personal information.

Trying to hide his real name, Mr. Doe argued that requiring him to proceed without anonymity would violate his privacy by exposing his sexual habits to public scrutiny. The court disagreed, however, saying that it “simply reveals that at one time he was a member of a website that catered to individuals who wanted to have ‘discreet relationships.’” 

As much as you can’t have your cake and eat it too, Mr. Doe can’t sue and stay anonymous. 

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