Leaked nude celebrity photos spark debate on privacy and free speech on the internet
Hacked nude celebrity photos appeared on anonymous message boards over the weekend causing an uproar. Stolen pictures of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and others were posted and traded online, causing internet users, administrators and authorities to all question the state of privacy and free speech on the internet. Especially following recent online scandals such as the harassment of Robin Williams' daughter on Twitter and the beheading of an American journalist in Syria on YouTube, many are questioning the role that tech companies should play in helping to police what is posted online.
"YouTube has clear policies that outline what content is acceptable to post on YouTube, and we remove videos violating these policies when flagged by our users," a YouTube spokesman said. The statement seems to argue that the responsibility of what is posted lies with the internet user. Others disagree with this approach, however, and argue a more proactive approach. The actions of Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton are worth noting, as he posted the celebrity pictures and then took them down claiming that he had made a quick and bad decision.
Jules Polonetsky, executive director of the Future of Privacy Forum, a Washington advocacy group, argued, "Sites allowing the sharing of these pictures can and should be taking proactive action to remove these pictures." He also argued that in reference to the hacked celebrity photos, the breach must be treated as both a sex crime and invasion of privacy. Jennifer Lawrence's publicist made a statement that authorities have been notified to prosecute anyone who posts or shares the photos.
FBI investigation in internet security
An investigation has been initiated by the FBI to explore Apple's iCloud and "Find my phone" apps as well. In the past, hackers have used the "I forgot my password" feature to hack into accounts. Kirsten Dunst and other celebrities have expressed their dissatisfaction with Apple's security.
"We take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report," Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said.
In 2011, the FBI successfully investigated the theft of photos and other documents from the email accounts of Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis and Christina Aguilera. A Florida hacker is currently serving a 10-year sentence for the same crime. In the end, while authorities try and reign in these acts of theft and breaches of privacy, the internet will continue to both perpetuate and self-police the problem. It is up to tech companies to continually introduce better systems of security. Furthermore, it is upon each user to decide what they choose to create, view and share on the internet because as is evidenced by recent events, the lines remain blurry as to what is safe and what is right.