Lena Dunham: Hacker Responsible For Stealing Naked Celebrity Photos Is A ‘Sex Offender’


This weekend’s revelation that dozens of celebrities and famous personalities were victims of a targeted hacking aimed at exposing private, sexually suggestive photos has reopened the conversation about online security and privacy.

Lena Dunham, the award-winning creator and star of HBO comedy Girls, took to Twitter to condemn the release of the photos and make a point about the nature of the photos that have been released:

Dunham’s tweet points to a different problem we face in the age where everything we share is done online: many of the laws governing online behavior haven’t been written yet. When Scarlett Johansson was similarly subjected to a malicious hacking that unearthed private photos of the actress, the hacker, 35-year-old Christopher Chaney, was sentenced to 10 years in prison under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a law that was written in 1986, three years before the World Wide Web was first created.

The CFAA has come under a lot of criticism by open internet activists as well. That’s the same law that the federal government used to convict Aaron Swartz on 13 criminal counts for downloading academic papers from MIT’s online databases. Advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation has been pushing for a more comprehensive set of laws, but legislators have failed to pass any meaningful reform.

Meanwhile, the problem is only getting worse.

Apple announced on Monday that it had fixed a security flaw in their iCloud service that could have been exploited to gain access to the photos. But technology companies are struggling to stay ahead of the hackers who are constantly testing networks for vulnerabilities and taking advantage of weaknesses. For instance, a study by Akamai Technologies found that in the last quarter of 2013, the number of DDoS attacks — where hackers cripple websites by bombarding them with illegitimate web traffic — rose by 75 percent from the previous year.

Large-scale hacks like the one that exposed millions of Target customers’ financial information last year often receive the most news coverage, but an estimated two thirds of all hackers are motivated simply by “ideology/fun.” With more of our personal information offered up online — in dating profiles, Facebook status updates, web-based messaging like iMessages and WhatsApp — the frequency of these kinds of hacks could only increase.