Online hackers have struck again as there appears to have been a massive leak of risqué and nude celebrity pictures, including pictures of Hunger Gamesstar Jennifer Lawrence, Ariana Grande, Victoria Justice and Kate Upton. The leak has taken the Internet and social media world by storm and according to BuzzFeed, the pictures first appeared on message board on the /b/ thread on 4chan. Not all of the pictures' authenticity has been confirmed; however, a spokesperson for Jennifer Lawrence released a statement to BuzzFeed confirming the pictures' authenticity while Grande's camp has denied the photos' authenticity claiming that the photos are completely fake. A master list purporting to be of all of the celebrities who were hacked has made its way across the internet and list dozens of female stars, including Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, and Mary-Kate Olsen. The pictures allegedly were retrieved due to an Apple iCloud leak that allowed celebrities' phones to be hacked, and were posted on 4chan in an attempt to earn bitcoins. Notwithstanding the blatant invasion of privacy at the hand, this breach of security also immediately begs the questions, "Is the Apple iCloud secure?" According to Business Insider, "It is unlikely that someone has broken into Apple's iCloud service. Instead the photos most likely emerged due to a type of hacking known as social engineering."
Via her publicist, Jennifer Lawrence came out immediately denouncing the conduct and stated the following:
"This is a flagrant violation of privacy... "The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence."
Digital privacy has become a serious issue in Hollywood. This most recent purported massive celebrity hacking incident comes on the heels of the 2012 sentencing of Christopher Chaney, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison after hacking into Scarlett Johansson's and Mila Kunis's private online accounts and posting their photos online. Clearly the obsession with celebrity culture continues to spiral out of control as the market and money involved with stolen and nude photos and videos of celebrities becomes big business. Following the sentencing of Mr. Chaney in 2012, GQ ran in-depth profile of Christopher Chaney and delved into the "murky territory of the celebrity-skin underworld" detailing that a single photo of an A-list celebrity can bring in as much as $50,000 a day thus providing an incentive for unscrupulous publishers and hackers to take the risk in hopes of a big pay day.
While the hope of a big payday might provide the motivation to engage in this improper conduct, the law takes this evasion of privacy seriously. Ask Christopher Chaney. Authorities are becoming better equipped to enforce digital privacy laws by identifying and ultimately prosecuting online hackers; therefore, individuals are no longer protected by the anonymity the internet once provided. As evidenced from the prosecution of Christopher Chaney, online hackers can face serious consequences including felony charges for unauthorized computer access and/or wiretapping, amongst other things, and can also be subjected to large fines for restitution and face serious jail time depending on the severity and extent of the privacy intrusion.