The GPS locations of more than 150,000 Ashley Madison users have been revealed to be concentrated in two places in Hong Kong. The discovery comes after the dating website, which is marketed towards married individuals, was recently targeted by hackers.

Ashley Madison’s user database, published by hackers earlier in the month, showed a spot just outside Murray Building in Central and Ruttonjee Hospital in Wan Chai to be the exact GPS locations of 89,936 users and 61,160 users respectively, according to a report in Apple Daily.

ashley madison website
The Ashley Madison website.

Murray Building was formerly a government building. It was vacated in 2012 when the government headquarters moved to the current site in Tamar. It is being redeveloped into a hotel.

The email address of TVB news director Keith Yuen Chi-wai, which was found among the hacked user database, appeared to be registered to the spot just outside Murray Building. When the scandal broke, he said that he had never been on the website and had no idea why his email address would appear in the database.

Murray Building in Central
Ground zero for cheating? A spot just outside Murray Building in Central and Ruttonjee Hospital in Wan Chai. Photo: Google Maps.

Lento Yip Yuk-fai, chairman of the Hong Kong Internet Service Provider Association, told the newspaper that the 150,000 users registered to the two GPS locations do not share the same IP address, which shows that they are real users.

He said some users who signed up to the website might have used devices not equipped with GPS coordinating functions, and there is a possibility that Ashley Madison might have chosen a random GPS location in Hong Kong to assign to them.

However, Young Wo-sang, convener of Internet Society Hong Kong, a non-profit organisation, told the newspaper that even if users didn’t have the same IP address, it doesn’t mean that they are real—because fake account registration is possible through different IP addresses.

The hackers behind the data release, who call themselves the Impact Team, asked Avid Life Media—which runs Ashley Madison and companion site Established Men—to shut down its websites in July. The group threatened to release user data if the company did not comply.

The Toronto-based firm boasts itself as “the most famous name in infidelity and married dating.” The website currently has almost 39 million “anonymous” users.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.