Fiona McCade: Let’s not leer over hacked pictures

Jennifer Lawrence was one of the public figures whose images were published on the internet. Picture: Reuters
Jennifer Lawrence was one of the public figures whose images were published on the internet. Picture: Reuters
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The hacking of many thousands of celebrities’ personal photos should be considered theft, not mere voyeurism, writes Fiona McCade

Would you receive stolen goods? If you were in a pub and a bloke came up to you, trying to flog you something that you strongly suspected the previous owner did not wish him – or you – to have, would you buy it?

I’m just curious. Last Sunday, when a hacker or hackers as yet unknown managed to break into Apple’s iCloud and remove thousands of photos and videos of celebrities, then publish them on an image-sharing forum, an act of theft took place.

It seems clear to me that the people whose images were taken didn’t want them to become public property, yet now they are. That’s stealing, isn’t it?

The fact that many of the images were of laydee slebs in the buff is neither here nor there to me. If Jennifer Lawrence was naked in her very own photos, that’s her business, not mine.

Unfortunately, the state of undress of JLaw and many other (interestingly, only female) stars of screen and music is now public knowledge. But they’re young, rich and beautiful, so who really cares? The genie is out of the bottle, so they had just better live with it, hadn’t they?

Ricky Gervais said to his 5.99 million Twitter followers: “Celebrities, make it harder for hackers to get nude pics of you from your computer by not putting nude pics of yourself on the computer” which is absolutely true. He backtracked wildly when people took exception to his remark and said it had been a joke, but he was right. If they didn’t store their pics in the iCloud, they couldn’t have been hacked. If I left a load of diamonds in a safety deposit box and someone broke into it and sold my precious stuff all over the place, it would be all my own fault for putting my faith in a lock and key system, wouldn’t it? Locks have been broken before; I should expect that someone would try. The thieves would only be doing what comes naturally and anybody buying my stuff would have the right to laugh at me for my naïveté. Correct?

I’ve seen a lot of people commenting online that if you want to keep something safe and private, you should keep it well away from the internet.

I agree. I’m quietly amazed that so many famous, media-savvy young women have stored intimate and sometimes explicit images of themselves on something that is as nebulous as, well, a cloud.

Personally, if I had anything like that to keep safe, I’d consider Fort Knox to be a tad inadequate, but we all make mistakes. An awful lot of people thought Northern Rock was as solid as its name.

But the eternal truth remains: just because you fail to safeguard something, just because you put your trust in a protection that lets you down, doesn’t mean you should – or deserve to – have your personal property taken from you.

Yet as far as these women’s privacy is concerned, finders appears to be keepers.

Perhaps I can see this crime for what it is because even if high-resolution pics of JLaw’s lady-bits came through my letterbox with ribbons on, they’d still go straight in the recycling. To be honest, I thought I’d seen pretty much all there was to see of her in X-Men: Days of Future Past, but apparently this isn’t enough for some of her more die-hard fans. Although how you can profess to adore someone while merrily violating their private life is beyond me.

We all know that this wasn’t some twisted publicity stunt. This isn’t some Z-lister “accidentally” leaking a sex tape, squealing: “I can’t believe this has happened!” and then getting a reality show deal off the back of it.

This has been a genuine shock to the people involved and their anger and anguish is painfully evident.

Actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead tweeted: “To those of you looking at photos I took with my husband years ago in the privacy of our home, hope you feel great about yourselves…

“Knowing those photos were deleted long ago, I can only imagine the creepy effort that went into this.”

Even the outrageously brash celebrity blogger, Perez Hilton, can’t justify perpetuating this crime.

When he first saw the images, he immediately loaded them on to his site, but then his conscience – which many doubted he had – finally kicked in.

“I acted in haste just to get the post up and didn’t really think things through,” he wrote, apologetically. “I’m sorry. At work we often have to make quick decisions. I made a really bad one today and then made it worse. I feel awful and am truly sorry.

“Upon further reflection and just sitting with my actions, I don’t feel comfortable even keeping the censored photos up. I am removing them.”

Wow. If Perez Hilton feels bad about some celebrities’ misfortune, where does that leave anybody still leering over the stolen snaps?

Come on, if you’re still looking, stop. You know it’s wrong. Just because something is there doesn’t mean you have to look at it. Just because something can be done, doesn’t mean you have to do it.

Perhaps the victims were stupid; perhaps their injury and suffering was even “inevitable”, but I’d like to think that some of us still have enough self-control that we can take responsibility for our own behaviour and not buy into someone else’s criminal actions, simply because they’ve done the hard work for us.

If you are so utterly desperate to see JLaw’s private parts, you have other options, you know. You could get to know her better; you could even watch a film in which she’s got them out. Otherwise, is it so difficult to accept that she doesn’t want you to see them? That it’s not your right to see them?

Oh, I know it’s hopeless, but to all those hundreds of thousands of voyeurs who are demanding: “Why shouldn’t I?” I have to ask: “Why should you?”