This week an American reporter brutally had his head hacked off, but what has garnered even more press coverage has been the brutal hacking of an Apple cloud to see nude celebrities. It sounds like a bizarre challenge from a Japanese game show, but it really happened. A hacker by the name of “originalguy”, hacked into Apple’s cloud storage and accessed nude, sexual, personal photos of a number of female celebrities. When I first heard the story I really did not care, in fact my initial thought was stupid, dumb celebrities. Having looked into it a little more and given it time, I am now left thinking stupid, dumb celebrities, but I have managed to develop some sympathy as well.
I see this situation in the following three ways:
- Stupid, dumb celebrities;
- An inexcusable violation of privacy;
- The hypocrisy of seeking justice through the Federal legal system.
Stupid, Dumb Celebrities
These were not just celebrities, they were celebrities that almost exclusively owe their careers to how they look. I was quick to notice Rosanne Bar, Oprah Winfrey, Sandra Bernhard and Cher were not among the victims of this attack, and I’m pretty sure that they’re up there in the Apple cloud also. These celebrities should have been a little more savvy, other than their aesthetic beauty they offer very little else to this world, it stands to reason that their nude pictures would be highly coveted. Now I know that probably somewhere in the Bill of Rights it protects an American’s liberty to take photos of themselves naked, it also grants them the liberty to be and do stupid things. And we can’t punish people for being stupid and dumb because we need someone to run our countries. I myself have done a plethora of idiotic things that I would rather the world didn’t know about (so I’ve not put them on cloud storage). These women were stupid, I’m sure most of them realize this, I’m also sure most of their careers will be more prosperous for this. Ultimately you have to be responsible for the pictures you take and how you store them.
An Inexcusable Violation of Privacy
So the women are to blame a little bit. “originalguy” who hacked the pictures is the villain of the piece, even though he was driven by the same forces that drives his victims, fame, notoriety and publicity, and he’s succeeded. What he did was a gross violation of an individuals privacy which is difficult to defend but I will attempt to do so later. What he has done would be considered abhorrent to any civilized society, but the truth is that our society is driven by this perverse, twisted dynamic. At face value the news is reporting the story for its gross violation of privacy, but what it ends up doing is promoting the fact that this material is out there on the net, “see it quick, before it’s deleted”. A fact that I found particularly interesting is that one of the celebrities had deleted their pictures but they remained stored in the cloud. Apparently once you have sent an image to a remote storage facility you basically lose the right to control what happens to it, and that I find to be damned scary. This leads to my next point.
The hypocrisy of seeking justice through the Federal legal system
Lawyers representing several of the celebrities effected have suggested they intend to pursue criminal cases under federal laws protecting a citizen’s rights to privacy. This does not seem unreasonable, there has to be some legal redress for what has happened. In a similar instance in 2012, Christopher Chaney was sentenced by a federal judge to serve 10 years in federal prison. Chaney’s crimes were a federal offence and so are “originalguy’s” as the FBI has already begun an investigation. That is all well and good until you cast your mind back and remember a certain Mr. Edward Snowdon. Snowdon leaked documents revealing details of the global surveillance apparatus of the United States, NSA. The fact is that the same Federal government that prosecutes people for violating privacy via the internet is the same Federal government that goes and does this for a job. The government is able to go through any cloud storage facility, with perhaps the exception of SpiderOak who have made efforts to make it more difficult, with complete impunity, no warrants or need of suspicion, nothing. This surely puts the Federal government in a tenuous position when punishing citizens for an activity they use public funds to do everyday.
To conclude, the celebrities were dumb and stupid, but people should not have to suffer for being dumb and stupid, being dumb and stupid thankfully does not constitute being a crime, it’s a god given right for many of us. The act of hacking personal files is wrong, then to publish them to the world without consent is the work of a deranged mind. The greatest problem in all this is that in our society there is a growing lack of respect for people’s privacy, especially where the internet is concerned. And privacy is privacy, it needs to be respected between citizens and especially between governments and their citizens.
A remarkable week in which the internet was headline news twice, ISIS beheading another American and broadcasting it on the internet, and then naked celebrities popped up. When I stand back to try and appreciate the scale of the internet, how this invention has and continues to shape our lives and societies, I am left feeling unsure as to whether it is worth the benefits we believe it bestows upon us.