It’s never okay to invade someone’s privacy and violate them sexually—which is exactly what hackers do when they steal and leak nude celebrity photos.
Hollywood has a long and problematic history with photo hacking. When someone is famous, the public assumes they have have an all access pass into their private life. But despite what those who hack graphic photos—and those who view them—may believe, you need permission from a woman to to view her body, even if she’s posing half naked on the cover of a magazine. Same goes for dudes.
Kristen Stewart, Stella Maxwell and Miley Cyrus are the most recent victims of sexual violation. Explicit images of the three young woman began circulating the dark web on August 22, and the stars have since taken legal action to have them removed from Internet porn sites. The new leak also included images of Tiger Woods his ex-girlfriend, Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn.
Despite the progress that’s been made to persecute the hackers and sympathize with the victims, these attacks continue to happen. Here’s a look back at dark history of perpetrators, targets, legal consequences, and emotional responses involved in Hollywood’s nude photo leaks.
Fall 2011: The First Leak
In September of 2011, Internet hacker Christopher Chaney accessed images belonging to more than 50 woman in the entertainment industry, including Scarlett Johansson and Mila Kunis.
Johansson responded to the leak in a Vanity Fair interview. ““[The photos] were sent to my husband. I know my best angles […] There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not like I was shooting a porno. Although there’s nothing wrong with that either.”
According to a GQ article, Chaney used social media to guess celebs’ email addresses and security question answers. The leak was investigated by the FBI, and in a 2012 trial Chaney pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
August 2014: 500 Celebrity Photos Shared
On August 31, 2014, hacker Ryan Collins leaked 500 intimate photos he’d stolen from celebrities over a period of two years. Acting without censorship or moral boundary, Collins used a simple phishing scam to hack an estimated 72 Gmail and 50 iCloud accounts. He sent his victims emails masked as notifications from Apple or Google, asking users re-enter their login data.
The images were shared on sites like 4chan and Reddit, which allow users to anonymously share uncensored content. It wasn’t until September 6 that the latter website finally deleted the subreddit titled “r/TheFappening,” a forum which acted as the primary distribution channel of the nude photos.
Fall 2014: Victims Respond
Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst and Kaley Cuoco are among the victims who confirmed their involvement in the photo leak and spoke out about their experience.
Lawrence has been particularly vocal, condemning those who hacked her and also those who viewed the photos. “Anybody who looked at those pictures, you’re perpetuating a sexual offence and you should cower with shame,” she told Vanity Fair.
Cuoco reacted a little differently. “It was a really bad situation,” the Big Bang Theory actress said on Jimmy Kimmel Live! “I decided to take it into my own hands and made a joke about it, because what else are you going to do?”
Dunst took to Twitter, and went after Apple with a simple 2-emoji euphemism.
Thank you iCloud
— Kirsten Dunst (@kirstendunst) September 1, 2014
October 2014: More Photos Found
On October 15, 2014, FBI agents entered the Chicago home of Emilio Herrera, whose IP address was linked to over 572 cyber hacking attacks. The “female celebrities” involved in the hack were listed as victims, and only by initials: “A.S., C.H., H.S., J.M., O.W., A.K., E.B., and A.H.” These initials reportedly referred to Abigail Spencer, Christina Hendricks, Hope Solo, Jennette McCurdy, Olivia Wilde, Anna Kendrick, Emily Browning, and Amber Heard.
March 2016: Ryan Collins Goes to Jail
After pleading guilty, 36-year-old Pennsylvania resident Collins was sentenced to just 18 months in prison.
March 2017: New Photos Leaked
Exactly one year after Collins was sentenced, stolen photos of Amanda Seyfried and Emma Watson began circulating the dark web.
Watson was not naked in the private images, but that didn’t stop her from taking legal action against the hackers who invaded her privacy. “Photos from a clothes fitting Emma had with a stylist a couple of years ago have been stolen. They are not nude photographs,” Watson’s publicist, Luke Windsor, told USA TODAY in a statement. “Lawyers have been instructed and we are not commenting further.”
August 2017: Another Multi-Celeb Leak
Dozens of nude photographs of celebrities including Miley Cyrus, Tiger Woods, his ex-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn, Kristen Stewart and her girlfriend Stella Maxwell have been stollen and released on Internet porn sites. TMZ is reporting that many of the violated celebs are lawyering up, and have already sent threatening letters to Celeb Jihad, warning the porn site that there may be drastic consequences if the images are not immediately removed.