Over the weekend, photos were anonymously posted online of several celebrities such as Ariana Grande, Kate Upton, Kirsten Dunst, Lea Michele and Jennifer Lawrence. It is believed that the celebrities’ iCloud accounts were hacked into and the photos were stolen and then spread across the Internet.
The basic foundation of our laws are based on the idea that we own ourselves and our property. This is what all of our rights are based on. If we own ourselves and our property then we have a right to defend it. If we own ourselves and our property then we have a right to keep it from being violated. Having private photos that were taken on a phone distributed on the Internet without consent is a direct violation of basic human rights.
We have deluded the idea of privacy. The reality of our society with technology is that nothing is truly private. Hackers and government policy will always ensure that fact. The idea, however, of privacy should never be forgotten. That is why we fight against the policies of the TSA when they view our naked bodies. It is the same reason why we fight against unconstitutional NSA programs that read our emails and listen to our phone calls. Those individuals who are outraged by bad policy should be just as outraged that someone’s privacy is being so clearly violated.
Right now everyone is busy victim blaming. There are some who believe because the photos were considered inappropriate Lawrence’s rights don’t exist. We need to be very clear about what happened here. Lawrence consented to those photos being taken; she did not consent to them being posted online for everyone to see.
All of us should be cautious with everything we do digitally, knowing there are possibilities that we could be hacked and our most personal effects will be posted publicly. At the same time when someone’s personal effects are stolen and their lives are shared for the world to view, we should not blame them, we should sympathize with them. We should refuse to participate in the disgusting voyeur culture that Hollywood has created. There is a clear connection between freedom and voyeurism. If one’s actions are being monitored, viewed, stalked or violated they are not free. They are, sometimes even unknowingly, bound to their voyeur. We should all acknowledge that this is not acceptable.
It is easy to jump to conclusions about the wisdom of any celebrity having something they wouldn’t want public on their phones/computers or any piece of technology. Instead, however, we should be asking ourselves who would want to damage someone so horribly that they would post personal images on the Internet. Why are we, as a society, okay with the idea that nothing we own is really our own? Additionally, if we do not own what we really own then who does? The state? Society? If Jennifer Lawrence owns those photos and they were posted without her permission, why are we not all acknowledging that it is theft? And if we can agree that it is theft, why are we not as outraged when the state steals our information without our permission?
Unfortunately, this story will pass from our memory quickly. With stories like the massive data breach at Target or the eBay breach these incidences are becoming more and more comfortable in our minds. Violations of rights should never become so common that they lose their severity. In many ways, however, I hope that instances like these will reinforce to the younger generations that privacy is privacy and should be protected.