The Celebrity Photo Breach of 2014: Internet Security in a Digital World
By now, you’ve all heard about the recent scandal concerning the nude photo leak and breach of privacy of several prominent female celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst, and Ariana Grande. The photos which appeared on Reddit, a social networking and news portal, were banned from the site nearly one week after the leaked images had already gone viral.
Besides several feminist issues that have arisen through this systematic and targeted attacks of female celebrities, the question that has arisen of late is one of technological security; can we trust the system that keeps track of every photo, every document, every post, every click we have ever made?
When you think about the sheer breadth of personal information that can be gleaned simply from your internet browser — targeted ads based on cookies, or positive clicks you have left behind in your history, whether deleted or not, can reveal your search history for years through complicated algorithms — the result is slightly alarming.
Any information you have ever entered into a website, saved as a document, or documented with pictures has been compiled to form your unique user history, and can be traced back to you, no matter how long ago or whether or not you deleted said items. Everything is chronicled and saved to the magical “Cloud” which none of us really understand; except those who do, and it is those select few who understand it (and how to manipulate it) too well who have us worried.
Even if you have “nothing to hide,” so to speak — that is to say you have never done anything illegal or reprehensible in your life — if all of our browser histories and personal archives were published tomorrow (let’s be honest here), we would all be a little bit screwed. Nobody needed to know how obsessed you are with Josh Grobin… or what about that weird phase you went through where you collected handmade cookie jars? That is one of the many reasons why the recent celebrity photo hack is so worrisome.
Though Apple came out with a statement within the last few days claiming that it was not a breach of the iCloud system or the Find My iPhone app, but a directed hack on passwords and security questions, it is disconcerting to know that such an extensive record of your activity can really be traced by anyone. If hackers are experienced and dedicated enough to acquire your personal records, even files deleted long ago, we should all be concerned for our own personal security.
With all this said, it is important to remember that the currently anonymous group of hackers who posted these pictures to the public are sexual offenders. This will not be the last we hear of this case; there will be legal action taken in the near future (the FBI investigation is underway as we speak) and if and when this does happen, those responsible for these violations will undoubtedly be penalized (to say the least).
When it comes to celebrities, we tend to feel like we are entitled to know every detail about their personal lives and scrutinize their every move because they have chosen for themselves their own fate, in a way, simply by choice of profession. It comes with the life they live. However, keep in mind that none of these celebrities consciously made the choice to release these intimate photographs to the public.
Try to put yourself in their shoes and remember that by looking at them, you are only increasing the level of violation felt by these women and perpetuating their repeated abuse. You have the power; if people made a conscious decision not to look at these photos, there wouldn’t be a problem in the first place.
What are your thoughts on this issue? Let us know in the comments below or find me on Twitter @JenksUOhMeASoda