Mike said that he and the admins don't read them, not that they can't.
Of course they can be read. They are stored in plaintext in a fucking database. You don't need a "smart web designer", you just need someone with access to the database and some kind of a basic clue about which end of a computer is up.
In any system where you can recover your password, it's not possible to make them unreadable. In a system where you can't recover a forgotten password, it's possible, but a pain in the ass.
I'm going to address just this (not the sale) from my knowledge, and I could stand corrected from JB and Wizard. Admins do not have any access to PM's. We do not have access to passwords. We are able to edit and delete publicly posted threads and posts to a thread to a limited extent; we are not able to edit polls.
It is possible that JB can recover a forgotten password, I suppose, but my best understanding is that he cannot; when someone forgets one, he verifies their ID via the email they originally used to sign up and other processes, then allows for a password reset. I could be wrong about this. JB can, with some work, port/graft one ID's posts into another. (I found that out during the "AcesandEights" duplication). Regular admins can not do these things.
I am not aware of any future intent or past activity in selling or marketing any forum member info to any third party or new owner. But that's getting beyond my knowledge of how the deal is structured, so I'll leave that to Mike.
Please accept my congratulations, Mike, on the sale.
"If the house lost every hand, they wouldn't deal the game."