Infidelity-focused dating service Ashley Madison is reportedly using copyright notices to lower the profile of documents that were leaked by hackers earlier this week. Motherboard journalist Joseph Cox writes that an employee of Avid Life Media, the company behind Ashley Madison, sent a DMCA takedown notice after Cox posted three tweets containing fragments of the leaked material. The notice, according to Cox, also confirms the leaks' veracity: "Avid owns all intellectual property in the data, which has been stolen from our data center, and disclosed in this unauthorized and unlawful manner."
On Tuesday, anonymous hackers released what they claimed were 36 million records from Ashley Madison users, containing names, profile information, and partial credit card records. Avid Life Media previously admitted that it had been hacked, but it hasn't officially said that these records are legitimate. Outside investigations, meanwhile, have indicated that they are.
The leaked files, if real, clearly contain sensitive information (although actual passwords have been encrypted). Cox's tweets, however, seemed relatively tame. One, which is now listed as removed by Twitter, reportedly showed what looked like part of an Avid Life Media office floor plan. Twitter left the other two tweets up — in total, they showed four labels from a spreadsheet, suggesting that the documents included shareholder names and company bank account details. None of the actual details were posted.
Frivolous copyright notices are a common way of suppressing criticism or leaked secrets, a practice that might be most strongly associated with the Church of Scientology. Of course, filing a DMCA takedown on Twitter is as easy as filling out a short form, so anyone could theoretically send one under any name — although it could result in legal penalties, and Twitter vets the submissions internally. We've reached out to both Twitter and Avid Life Media for confirmation.