Privacy is privacy, no matter who you are

Opinion

JL
Quick! There are NEKKID photos of CELEBRITIES ONLINE THAT YOU MUST SEE!!!!1!! Or, you know, if you’re in any way a decent human being, not.
Buzzfeed, amongst many, many others is reporting that owing to an “iCloud hack” (more on that later), compromising photos of celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence have spread across the Internet.
Cor! NEKKID CELEBRITIES!
Ahem. No.
No, no no, no, NO. And again, NO.
No, I’m not going to link to them, or to anyone linking to the actual pictures and not just because they would be by definition resoundingly NSFW. Neither have I clicked through for a quick pervy glimpse.
While there is an understandable and media-led interest in the lives of celebrities who are otherwise splashed across billboards, TV screens, silver screens and the web, that interest should, by any practical, sensible and ethical definition stop the moment that anyone goes into their private home space.
Or, to borrow Mrs Patrick Campbell’s most famous saying, I don’t care what they do, so long as they don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses.
That’s up to them, whether they’re taking NEKKID PICTURES or simply choosing to BRUSH THE DOG.
This gets back to a very simple concept, and it’s one that I’ve argued about before. There should be a basic right to privacy for all human beings, and it’s a right that’s especially important in the digital age.
I don’t care if you’ve been in a Hollywood multi-billion dollar blockbuster, or if your greatest achievement in life has been that time you burped the chorus of “Barbie Girl” back in year 8.
That’s irrelevant in a digital age where people can choose to have their lives online — but the key word there is “choose”. Hacking an account to gain access to private pictures removes that agency of choice. It’s much the same thing as arguing against metadata collection en masse, because that exact same choice as to how much information you choose to put out there is taken out of your hands.
To put it another way, if Jennifer Lawrence chose to go running down Rodeo Drive wearing nothing but her smile, then snap away — that’s very much a public space, and while you might reasonably wonder why she might choose to do such a thing, it’s still relatively open slather.
This isn’t, and should be decried as such. It’s a very good (albeit undoubtedly painful given its widespread publicity) example of why I don’t favour the “if you’ve nothing to hide” excuse when it comes to invasive privacy arguments.
Jennifer Lawrence had nothing to hide, every right to do whatever she pleases in her own private environment, and I do hope that whoever’s behind the leak or hack is brought to justice — but the damage is done in any case.
What then, of the purported “iCloud Leak”?
It’s still very early days on that side of the story. Apple certainly hasn’t issued any public announcement, and I’d be very surprised if they did. Although given the connections between Cupertino and Hollywood, I’m certain some very specific questions are being asked behind closed doors right now.
It’s not entirely clear if it was an iCloud backup or full Photostream that was hacked; Apple’s permissions around either differ slightly, although only really in the respect that you can opt to delete a photo that you’ve added to a Photostream. Originally you couldn’t even do that, with the only option for a suspect Photostream being to nuke the whole thing and start again.
From a personal level, I’ve avoided cloud-based photo backups because I value my privacy. I’m not personally a hacking target, or at least I’d want to hope I wasn’t, but computer systems are fallible creations.
That’s NO excuse, however, for gross invasions of privacy, and that’s exactly what the current leak is. If you’re a fan of being private in your own life, anything less is the most abhorrent hypocrisy.
Image: Gage Skidmore

One thought on “Privacy is privacy, no matter who you are

  1. It’s one of the great downsides of our age. Capturing personally important moments (and what we had for lunch) is no a zero cost activity. And cloud storage and sharing make it trivially easy to share stuff with people we choose to share with (not withstanding ludicrously complex rules and user agreements).
    But we are far more susceptible to having information we choose to keep private put into the public domain.
    And that’s a sad thing IMHO.

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