By now, most of you have heard about the hacking scandal that is rocking Hollywood right now. Some scumbag hacked into the iCloud accounts of hundreds of female celebrities yesterday and released dozens of photos of their most intimate and private shots online. Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst, and Alison Brie are just three of the big names exposed in the first dump and the perpetrator has apparently promised to release similar nude shots of hundreds of more female celebrities, everyone from Rihanna to Cat Deeley. To hack that many private accounts would seem to require some NSA-level skill, so hopefully the authorities can find this thief and ensure he gets the just punishment he deserves for all the damage he’s done. And before he’s able to do more.
Many of the stars’ lawyers, like those of Lawrence, have promised lawsuits, and indeed, the law is getting better about fighting back against such cyber crimes. The hacker who released a half dozen of Scarlett Johansson’s nude photos he stole from her cell in 2011 was sentenced to 10 years. And other such invasions of privacy, from the “revenge porn” release of nude shots of ex-wives or girlfriends to pirated sex tapes, are receiving swifter and heavier punishment these days. That’s very, very encouraging.
The problem though is more than just finding the hackers and throwing the book at them. The real issue is how do you put a genie back into the bottle once it’s gotten out. Sure, it’s great that Johansson’s perpetrator is in jail, but her photos are still out there, everywhere, all too easily found at every corner of the web. Can Johansson ever truly be vindicated with such exploitation still going on?
Likewise, the shots of Lawrence, Dunst and others are already being passed around from gossip sites to porn sites to personal emails. Even if they catch the jerk that released the photos, how do we stop the networking and trafficking of the shots? Fuzzy international boundaries and different countries’ laws will make it even harder to retrieve the shots. So does that mean that Jennifer Lawrence will have to deal with the pictures that were only intended for her boyfriend’s eyes, remaining in the public domain for the rest of her career? Yes, all too likely.
Thus, there are five, inescapable conclusions from such matters. I hate to list them, but here they are:
ONLINE PRIVACY IS AN ILLUSION
And it particularly is for celebrities. Even with all their status, millions, agents, lawyers and bodyguards, celebs really have no privacy. It’s a shame, but everyone who becomes a star in Hollywood has got to realize that they can, and more likely will, be fodder for all kinds of lurid news and gossip. And in this modern world, that means, “Watch all that you do”. Despite their attempts to hide from the paparazzi, or keep certain things private, there is little chance for such pipe dreams in this modern era. There are simply too many bottom feeders out there willing to do anything to make a buck, and if that means taking whatever picture they can, they will. Even if they have to steal it from your iCloud.
THOSE WHO SEXT, PLAY WITH FIRE
Everyone should know by now that any nude picture or sext message can be hacked. Heck, any picture or message could easily fall into the wrong hands. Anything you send in an email or text can be stolen, retrieved, manipulated or used against you. Sign up for the new Facebook messenger app and it looks like it's going to get access to not only your list of friends and likes, but your cellphone's camera and microphone too. The new Adobe Flash player is asking for similar access to your computer when you install it. They want to know as much info about you as possible so they can target you with precise news and ads. That also means they get access to anything you might be saying or doing while using your cell, tablet or computer too. Scary, but true.
THE INTERNET IS THE WILD WEST
Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum wasted months debating women’s personal access to birth control during the 2012 election. They should’ve been arguing about the blurred lines of everyone's access to personal data and online information. The wild, wild web still has yet to be a real political issue, but it will soon. As cyber crime, online bullying, hacking, and identity theft continue to increase in numbers, the world’s leaders will have to start addressing the modern world. But right now, it’s still too lawless, unchecked, and untamed.
MOST OF US ARE ONLINE ILLITERATE
“No one understands the Cloud!” Jason Segal yelled at Cameron Diaz in this summer’s romantic comedy SEX TAPE about a married couple’s tryst on tape that went viral. That line shouldn’t have gotten the big laugh it does in the film because it’s actually quite terrifying. Most of us really don’t know how our information is stored and shared. The NSA is scarcely regulated. Social media shares way too much. And firewalls and Clouds can be easily compromised, even in big companies. Knowledge is power, and most of us have very little of either when we’re online.
WE STILL LIVE IN A SHOCKINGLY SEXIST WORLD
You know what that hacker did to Lawrence, Dunst and the others? He assaulted them. Truly, it’s a version of sexual assault. And sadly, even the brave new world of the information age doesn’t seem too far off of the Stone Age. Isn’t it strange how you never hear about any male star nude photos being hacked and shared everywhere? There are too many awful men who will find new ways to exploit and bully women. And in doing so, women will continue to be suckerpunched.
It goes without saying that the digital age can be wonderful. It’s given us so much information that we never dreamed possible with its news, encyclopedias, stores, streaming, and social platforms. But sometimes it goes too far. And it sure the hell did yesterday.