Sex, security and celebrity photo leaks


Photo by Will Huang
Photo by Will Huang

Technology fuels society – we Instagram our meals before we eat them, update our status before we indulge in life, tweet witty retorts to nobody for mild entertainment, instantly meet potential one night stands within a certain radius.

We click, share, like, favourite and replay. Paired with technology is speed, as the rate at which we consume and spread this information is unprecedented.

We live in a fast and interconnected world where social media offers a Big Brother presence; nothing is secret, nothing is sacred and surprises do not exist.

Recently, a surprise of the worst kind rocked Hollywood when sensitive photographs of celebrities were leaked onto the Internet.

Over 30 women of celebrity status were targeted, including Jennifer Lawrence, Avril Lavigne, Hayden Panettiere, Kate Upton, Kirsten Dunst, Rihanna and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

Debatably, privacy is difficult to come by once you cross a certain threshold of fame.

The identity of the mysterious hacker is difficult to establish or verify. Authorities are investigating further to determine if this was the work of one hacker or a ring of hackers.

The word “hack” seems complicated, and surely what comes to mind is an incredibly intelligent person sitting in a dark room with 50 computer screens illuminating their life’s work.

The thing is, hacking isn’t difficult at all, and in fact, Apple has been massively criticized for a breach in the security – or lack thereof – of iCloud and Find My iPhone.

Moreover, did the hack come from America? Was this an international violation?

Breaking into Jennifer Lawrence’s iPhone, for instance, requires a username and a password.

You would have immediate access not only to her personal photos, but her contacts, messages, emails and passwords to other accounts. Hacking is simple and difficult to trace.

Although Apple is dodging responsibility, it has hired engineers to look into the breach and to define their role in this reveal.

Did the hacker work at Apple? Was this iCloud information readily available? This entire situation poses two very important questions.

First of all, regardless of celebrity status, can we trust our various devices to keep our secrets?

If we save a photo to iCloud or to SkyDrive, are we indirectly saving it to the worldwide web where it will be stored indefinitely?

Unless these celebrities have a hard copy of their private photos safely tucked away in an album gathering dust under their beds, is it fair game?

Ricky Gervais nailed it in his tweet about the release of the photos: “Celebrities, make it harder for hackers to get nude pics of you from your computer by not putting nude pics of yourself on your computer.”

This message begs the question, are we as students safe with our own technology?

Can we sit comfortably in a lecture hall and be rest assured that our racy photos will not be distributed to our peers?

If an iCloud hack can fail a seemingly untouchable celebrity, perhaps our devices are not as secure as we would like them to be.

Second, this is a clear violation of privacy. There is a lot of dissatisfaction that the release of the leaks were non-consensual and the hacker is more or less a sex offender.

Perhaps, then, Gervais’ comment can be manipulated to mirror the ever so common “Girls, wear more clothing and you won’t be attacked.” Is it the same thing?

In the event that those responsible are located, how would this trial work? When no profit is earned, is unrestricted sharing of a public figure illegal?

While it is terrible that these women have been exposed unexpectedly, society is dangerously curious.

Let this be a lesson for every “sext” you send, every nude you share and how lax you are about privacy settings on your devices.

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