1. Opinion

Ruth: Broadband's bawdy breach

Published Sep. 5, 2014

Perhaps you aspire to fame and fortune, the chance to walk the red carpet at the Oscars to the cooing of adoring fans and to have gossip columnists taking note that you were seen spooling pasta at Wolfgang Puck's while canoodling with another international sex symbol.

Career planning — it's a wonderful thing.

But as with all matters of the cult of celebrity, there is a cautionary tale.

Apparently there is an unwritten rule in the world of being a VIP (Very Important Pin-up) that requires having naked pictures of yourself taken by a paramour, which eventually — much to your carefully orchestrated chagrin — make their way into the cheesy cybersphere.

Such was the fate recently for actors Jennifer Lawrence and Mary Elizabeth Winstead along with supermodel Kate Upton, among other Hollywood stars, who learned that photographs of them in the altogether had been absconded with and posted all over the Internet.

The aggrieved parties lamented that their privacy was cruelly violated by shameless, twisted oafs with considerable hacking skills to worm their way into the iPad and cellphone accounts of famous and semi-famous people.

Once again the debate has been joined over privacy rights and the responsibilities of snoopy Internet outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, 4chan and Reddit to better police their sites and remove offensive material that debases innocent victims of cyber-stalking.

This isn't about the First Amendment. Free speech rights don't extend to stealing compromising images of private (albeit well-known) citizens and displaying them for the prurient dining and dancing pleasure of others.

However … isn't there always a however?

The offended parties to the cyber peep show are hardly strangers to photographic flesh peddling. For example, the Internet is awash with images of Upton from her various Sports Illustrated swimsuit editions wearing not much more than a salacious wardrobe-malfunction-in-waiting.

And while Lawrence is a terrific actor with an Academy Award to her name for Silver Linings Playbook, she, too, has been frequently photographed in public leaving precious little to the imagination.

And as for that noted thespian Mary Elizabeth Winstead, her naughty purloined pictorial probably captured a greater audience than her tour de farce performance in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, leaving audiences anxiously awaiting "Millard Fillmore: Godzilla Slayer."

What was done to these women by the cyber trolls is an egregious encroachment on their privacy.

But don't you also suspect that when you achieve a certain degree of recognition, if your lover and/or spouse says to you: "Hey sugarplum, how about I take a bunch of naked photos of you," the siren warnings should be blaring?

At the risk of committing prudery, who does this sort of stuff without considering the possibility their au natural exhibitionism won't show up on a laptop in Kurdistan?

These celebrities aren't stupid. By the time a Jennifer Lawrence, or a Kate Upton, or even a Mary Elizabeth Winstead reaches a certain status by marketing their attractiveness in the show business racket, they have to know any photo taken of them, especially involving an absence of clothing, is all but destined to find its way to the sleaze-o-sphere.

These three aren't the first celebrities to have their private accounts hacked and saucy photos uplinked into the Inter-hoochie-coochie. And thus for the umpteenth time, Lawrence, Upton and Winstead et al. have learned a lesson they ought to have already learned. The "Delete" key is nothing more than a delusion.

When the cyber-photo pimps put their minds to it, passwords can be compromised. Multiple filters of security can be breached. And no birthday suit is safe from becoming a global peep show.

Apparently the FBI is hot on the mousepad to track down the Internet interlopers who wormed their way into the cyber accounts of the celebrities. Then what?

Considering the photos are ricocheting around the world, the likelihood of eventually snagging the soft-porn perpetrators would seem problematic.

But if some of those trading in the bawdy pictures of Hollywood's starlets are nabbed, would a fine and prison term really send a message to other lowlifes to respect the privacy of others?

Probably not. But posting naked photos of the smarmy cyber-brigands on the Internet might send a message that what's good for the gorgeous is good for the panderer.


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