Hacked Cheating Website Ashley Madison Drops Profile Deletion Fee

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Avid Life CEO Noel Biderman

The decision to drop account "full-delete" charge follows hackers threatening to post users' personal information online.

With hackers threatening to post the personal information of Ashley Madison users online, the parent company of the cheating spouses website has dropped its controversial account profile deletion fee.

Toronto-based Avid Life Media Inc., while apologizing for the "unprovoked and criminal intrusion" into its internal database, in a statement on Tuesday said it has now waived a $19 charge to fully delete personal information of users. "As our customers’ privacy is of the utmost concern to us, we are now offering our full-delete option free to any member, in light of today’s news," the company said.

Ashley Madison’s unidentified hacker, The Impact Team, cited the deletion fee and allegedly not fully removing personal account information as the main reason for the cyber attack. Avid Life Media took exception to that claim, and said "contrary to current media reports, and based on accusations posted online by a cyber criminal, the 'paid-delete' option offered by AshleyMadison.com does in fact remove all information related to a member’s profile and communications activity."

Ashley Madison previously allowed users to deactivate their accounts for free, but required the $19 charge per-account for permanent deletion. The company said it executes a "hard-delete of a requesting user’s profile, including the removal of posted pictures and all messages sent to other system users’ email boxes."

"This option was developed due to specific member requests for just such a service, and designed based on their feedback," it added. Avid Life Media also said it has been "able to secure our sites, and close the unauthorized access points," and is working with law enforcement agencies to identify its hackers.