An alleged hack of Apple's iCloud storage service has led to the leak of nude and sexually explicit images of some of the entertainment world's biggest names.
The images, posted by an anonymous user on forum website 4chan, feature Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence and model Kate Upton, among dozens of others, reports Newsweek.
What are some of the possible legal ramifications of these leaked photos?
If the hacker or hackers behind the leaked photos are identified, they could be facing serious criminal charges.
In 2012, a Florida man who hacked into the personal e-mail accounts of celebrities, including Scarlett Johansson and Mila Kunis, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. 35-year-old Christopher Chaney had been facing as much as 60 years in prison for his crimes, which included identity theft and wiretapping.
Potential Civil Lawsuits
In addition to criminal prosecution, the hackers could face a slew of civil lawsuits from those whose private photographs were distributed online.
A lawsuit for invasion of privacy is one possibility. There are several different types of invasion of privacy claims that may be applicable to this situation:
- Intrusion of solitude. Intrusion of solitude is typically used against peeping toms or those who snoop through another person's private information if doing so would be highly offensive to a reasonable person.
- Public disclosure of private facts. Public disclosure involves revealing private information to the public. Not all states recognize this as an invasion of privacy claim.
- False light. False light allows legal action of public disclosure of information that places a person in a false light that would be highly offensive or embarrassing to a reasonable person.
The celebrities involved may also be able to pursue claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress. If a person's extreme conduct intentionally or recklessly causes severe emotional distress, the person who suffers that distress may be able to recover damages to compensate for the emotional and physical harm caused by the conduct.
Apple claims the security exploit which allowed the iCloud hack has now been patched, but it may be small comfort to violated celebs like Lawrence and Upton.
- Jennifer Lawrence's Nude Photos Leak Online, Other Celebs Targeted (Huffington Post)
- Scarlett Johansson Nude Photo Hacker Did it for the Thrill, Cops Say (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice)
- Celebrity Phone Hacking: ScarJo Threatens Suit (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice)
- Apple iCloud Hacked, Celebrity Nudes Leaked. But How? (FindLaw's Technologist)