Service members found to have used adultery website Ashley Madison could face disciplinary action, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Thursday.
"Yes, the services are looking into it as well they should be," Carter said when asked if the Defense Department was seeking to confirm reports that tens of thousands of service members may have used the website that was recently hacked.
"Of course it's an issue because conduct is very important" to good order and discipline in the military, he said at a wide-ranging Pentagon news conference.
Pentagon regulations prohibit the use of an official computer or email account such as those ending with the ".mil" domain to access pornography or to register on sites like AshleyMadison.com. Violators can be prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Adultery and "conduct unbecoming" are also punishable under the UCMJ.
However, the presence of an individual's email account in the hacked files doesn't necessarily indicate that its owner actually used the services of AshleyMadison.com, whose advertising slogan is, "Life is Short. Have an Affair."
Registered email addresses submitted by 37 million users of the website were in a recent data dump by hackers who stole the sensitive personal information in July, Wired magazine has reported.
According to an unofficial analysis, the hacked accounts include 6,788 addresses ending in "army.mil" addresses, 1,665 ending in "navy.mil," 809 ending in "usmc.mil" (for U.S. Marine Corps) and 206 addresses ending in the newer domain "mail.mil."
--Amy Bushatz and Brendan McGarry contributed to this story.
--Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@military.com.