Privacy prevails over Hollywood hackers


We’ve seen it a thousand times before: The classic “lewd photo” scandal. But this time, the hacking of several A-list celebrities caught the eye of feminists and humanitarians alike. Celebrities from Jennifer Lawrence to Kate Upton had their private photos unleashed on the most unforgiving space on Earth—the Internet. So what makes this time different?

Photos of underdressed celebrities began appearing on the popular anonymous image board sites of 4chan and AnonIB on late Aug. 31. According to a statement issued by Apple Inc. on Sept. 2, the accounts of certain stars were infiltrated due to “a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions,” not by any fault of Apple Inc.

The FBI has continued to investigate the source of the leaked photos, and plans to pursue leads through several chat room sites. The most recent development was a statement made by one of the victim’s representatives, claiming that the leaked pictures were taken while she was a minor, which has led Reddit to ban all the threads that contain the leaked photos.

Sounds like a familiar story, right? Here’s the difference: People are defending the celebrities. Emma Watson tweeted: “Even worse than seeing women’s privacy violated on social media is reading the accompanying comments that show such a lack of empathy.” Unfortunately, not everyone shares Watson’s understanding of the incident.

Whether YouTube comments or message board threads, comments have resembled such things as, “If you didn’t want people to see your pictures, why did you take them?” Sure, some can deem taking private pictures and trusting a service like iCloud to be irresponsible, but it doesn’t make the theft of these images any less criminal. Prevention is important, but the fact that we must prevent people from stealing our private photos in the 21st century just isn’t right.

According to Australia’s Sexual Abuse Prevention Network Coordinator, Fiona McNamara, it’s about consent and nothing more. “Sharing nude photos of women without their consent undermines a woman’s ownership of her body as if it is a commodity that exists for the pleasure of the general public,” McNamara said. “What actually needs to be addressed here is that those images were stolen and distributed without the women’s consent.”

It does not matter who it is. When pictures taken and stored on personal property are released without consent it is a crime, and they are the victim. We have to remember, these pictures weren’t leaked, they
weren’t posted by an ex-partner or an angry fan, they were stolen.

Saying that these celebrities were at fault for taking these pictures is equivocal to telling someone who was robbed that they were at fault for owning a wallet. It’s just another product of rape culture’s relentless grip on the neck of society.

Once we click that link, we become a part of it, too. We get sucked into temptation’s vortex, and the only way to break free of that is to understand the damage it’s doing to society.

It doesn’t stop with leaked pictures, either. We are faced with issues of this magnitude every day. Whether we play into the media’s games is our choice, but an incredibly critical one at that.

So, next time the media’s temptations get the best of us, we must evaluate where we stand. It’s not just tact that should keep us from clicking that link, but the understanding that every time we do we are fueling a fire much bigger than us. We’re doing the world an injustice by not evaluating the consequences of our actions. In this case, a culture of victim blaming and privacy violation will continue to spread like a wildfire, and that’s something society cannot allow in the wake of our ignorance.

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