Here's what Ashley Madison's $19 'Full Delete' feature actually removes

Ashley MadisonQuartzThe Ashley Madison homepage.

Adultery website Ashley Madison has been accused of failing to delete all user information, even when users paid for the $US19 “Full Delete” feature that promised to erase all trace of them from the company’s servers, The Register reports.

A class-action lawsuit, filed by “John Doe” (a pseudonym that includes all who signed onto the suit) against Avid Life Media, the company that owns Ashley Madison, alleges that when users paid Ashley Madison the fee to erase them completely, only parts of their profile were actually removed from the server.

When the data was released onto the internet, even those users who thought they were safe were not.

“This massive data breach could have been prevented had [Ashley Madison] taken the necessary and reasonable precautions to protect its users’ information by, for example, encrypting the data entrusted to it by its users on a database level,” according to the complaint.

Ashley Madison Full DeleteThe RegisterFull Delete (left) vs a standard account (right). (Green denotes information that was deleted)

When the data leaked, services were able to quickly set up searchable databases that allowed anyone to check if their data was among that which leaked, making it exponentially easier to find a spouse.

The Register compiled a comparison of how much information was retained on those who used “Full Delete” compared with an account that did not. The results (see right chart) results do not make Ashley Madison look good.

While things like your email address, full name, street address, and phone number were erased, Ashley Madison allegedly retained the user’s date of birth, GPS-based coordinates, and ID number, among other things.

The lawsuit makes multiple references to the “Full Delete” feature, which apparently netted Avid Life Media almost $US2 million (£1.3 million) in revenue, making it clear that those users who thought they were safe feel the most betrayed.

In total, the lawsuit seeks “in excess” of $US5 million (£3.2 million) in damages from Avid Life Media. Concurrently to this case, Avid Life is also seeing litigation from Canada where multiple plaintiffs are seeking $US576 million (£368 million).

NOW WATCH: Here’s the type of info hackers have after breaking into the extramarital hookup site Ashley Madison

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