Monday Medley: Ashley Madison CEO steps down

Ashley Madison founder Noel Biderman. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Noel Biderman, the CEO of Avid Media Inc., who founded the Ashley Madison website 14 years ago in Toronto, stepped down from the company Friday.

To say Ashley Madison is in hot waters is an understatement. The membership-based self-proclaimed adultery web site was the subject of a massive data hack earlier this month. Nearly 30 gigabytes of its users’ data were released including e-mail addresses and partial credit card numbers.

The data breach has exposed Ashley Madison to a number of class actions and is widely covered in the media.

The privacy issues are only one side of the battle. Ashley Madison is also associated with questionable business practices such charging fees for a “hard-delete” of a profile even though the information would not be deleted permanently off the website.

It has also come under criticism for the sheer volume of profiles of fake women, allegedly created to lure men to join.

Ashley Madison was reported to service close to 40 million users, highlighting that there is a market for serving cheaters. The recent data hack, however, has destroyed the users’ expectations of privacy and anonymity.

The breach of trust coupled with a lack of reputable competitors will make it difficult for Ashley Madison to be rescued from its downward spiral.

Canadian journalist sentenced to three years in jail in Egypt

Three journalists — Canadian Mohamad Fahmy, Australian Peter Greste, and Egyptian Baher Mohamed — were sentenced to three years in jail by an Egyptian court Saturday.

The judge, Hassan Farid, sentenced the trio to prison for broadcasting “false news” on Al-Jazeera and bringing in equipment without security officials’ permission as well as other charges. The charges stem from allegations that they supported the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and fabricated footage to undermine Egypt’s national security.

The Canadian and American governments, the federal Liberals and New Democrats in Canada, Amnesty International, and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression are among groups that have expressed disappointment over the verdict.

The NDP and Liberals urged Harper to take a break from the federal election campaign and contact the Egyptian president to secure the pardon and release of Fahmy.

Fahmy is 41 years old. He was arrested abruptly in 2013 while working in Egypt as the Cairo bureau chief of Aljazeera English.

Saturday’s verdict was the outcome of Fahmy’s second trial in relation to these charges. He was previously convicted by a lower court in Egypt and was retried on appeal. His colleague, Peter Gerste, was deported to Australia following the first trial.

Fahmy gave up his Egyptian citizenship while in jail in hopes of being sent back to Canada. He was denied the same treatment.

Following the conviction on Saturday, Canada's ambassador to Egypt alongside Amal Clooney, Fahmy's lawyer, have filed a formal request with Egyptian officials for Fahmy's pardon and deportation.  

14-year old Canadian boy shot to death in Jamaica

More trouble for Canadians abroad.

Police in Jamaica have released information that a 14-year old Toronto boy was shot several times at 2 a.m. on Sunday in the capital Kingston, while attending a wake. He was pronounced dead shortly after being taken to a hospital.

So far, only one person of interest has been located by the local police.

Barge dumps scrap vehicles into B.C. harbour

A barge tipped and spilled 20 scrap vehicles into Victoria’s harbour in British Columbia Friday afternoon.

The province’s Ministry of Environment is hopeful that the ecological damage will be minimal but acknowledges an assessment may take days.

Apparently, the fuel inside engines should be removed from scrap vehicles before they go aboard a barge but it is impossible to get all the fuel out. Currently hydrocarbon deposits are seen in the water but the cleanup efforts have begun.

A large boom has been erected around the site to contain any pollution.

The second story on Canadian journalist, Fahmy, has been updated to include Canada's formal request with Egyptian officials for his pardon and deportation. 

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