TIME movies

Theaters Pull Sony’s The Interview After Hacker Threat of Violence

Stars of 'The Interview' James Franco and Seth Rogen, left and center, appear on 'Good Morning America' on Dec. 15, 2014 Ida Mae Astute

The studio said it would support theaters' decisions not to show the movie

Some movie theater chains are pulling Sony’s film The Interview from their lineups in the face of the threat of a Sept. 11-style attack against theaters who screen the upcoming movie. Hackers who go by the name Guardians of Peace and who stole untold amounts of sensitive data from Sony Pictures Entertainment made the threat on Tuesday. The hackers oppose the release of Sony’s comedy, which portrays the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Sony reached out to movie theater owners following the threat to say the studio is going forward with plans to release the film, but that it would support theaters’ decisions not to show the movie…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Media

Is Reading Executives’ Hacked Emails Really Any Better Than Peeping at Hollywood in Its Birthday Suit?

Sony Pictures Classic 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards Party
Scott Rudin and Amy Pascal attend the Sony Pictures Classic 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards Party held at The Beverly Hilton hotel on January 16, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. Jean Baptiste Lacroix—WireImage

Nick Gillespie is the editor in chief of Reason.com and Reason.tv.

Reading hacked emails is hardly any better than being a Peeping Tom

It was just a few months ago that everybody and his grandmother was truly livid—or at least feigned anger before firing up our search engines—when hackers released naked pictures of celebrities ranging from Jennifer Lawrence to Kate Upton to Dave Franco. Curiously, such outrage is almost completely missing in the media’s response to the massive hack attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment, which may be linked to the North Korean government and has dumped private emails, contracts, files of unreleased movies, and more all across the Internet.

This time around, there is unapologetic prurience at the chance to get a real behind-the-scenes look at an industry long notorious for its wicked, backbiting, and hypocritical ways. Big-shot producer Scott Rudin tells Sony co-chair Amy Pascal he thinks Angelina Jolie is “a minimally talented spoiled brat”? A-List director David Fincher is as difficult as Hitler was anti-Semitic? Tell us more!

Whatever the differences in public responses, the episodes underscore two basic points that are worth learning fast: First, nobody cares about other people’s privacy, especially if the divulged material is juicy enough. Second, privacy is itself a highly fluid concept that will have probably changed yet again by the time you finish reading this article. Once upon a time, for instance, the Supreme Court ruled that federal agents didn’t need warrants to tap phones. Privacy is invented more than it is discovered.

The deep pull of hacked naked pictures of celebrities isn’t simply that we common people get to see the stars in their birthday suits. After all, many celebrities have either bared all on their day jobs and hyper-realistic Photoshopped fakes of everyone from Sarah Palin to Joe Biden already haunt the Internet like Banquo’s ghost (there are probably full-junk shots of him online too). It’s that these are images that were not meant to be seen by the mere public (indeed, that was the lure of early celebrity sex tapes that, often as not, may have been made with the intention their being leaked). They promise some sort of secret knowledge of the “real” star that Hollywood has always tried to obscure in its manipulation of public images. In an age of Wikileaks, Edward Snowden, and–more importantly–TMZ, we don’t just want to see the finished product, we want to see what’s behind the curtain. And what execs really think of the stars they pay so well.

That’s true from the hacked emails and documents from Sony. When studio executive Clint Culpepper calls rising comedian and movie star Kevin Hart “a greedy whore” for demanding payment to do “social media” on a movie, it’s the sort of revelation that confirms all of our nastiest intuitions. The hypocrisy on display in the emails—a movie mogul pissed at a performer asking for money?—is nothing short of electrifying.

Similarly, when studio head Pascal and Oscar-winner Rudin—both public, liberal supporters of Barack Obama—start dishing race-based jokes about the president, we know we’re finally on the inside of a walled fortress built to protect phonies. “Should I ask him if he liked Django [Unchained]?” quipped Pascal in a note to Rudin written shortly before she was about to meet Obama at a fundraiser. “12 Years [a Slave],” replied Rudin.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t moments of something approaching valor and artistic courage. It’s widely believed the hack has some connection to The Interview, an upcoming comedy in which Seth Rogen and James Franco play bumbling journalists tasked by the U.S. government to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un (that country’s officials have denied any involvement while denouncing the film as a “terrorist act”). After Sony proposed edits to the movie’s finale, apparently to make the movie less offensive to Korean communists, Rogen pushed back, telling Pascal, “This is now a story of Americans changing their movie to make North Koreans happy.” Good for Rogen, but when the star of Zack and Miri Make a Porno is the conscience of your industry, you might have bigger problems than learning how to turn on a firewall and encrypt your data.

There’s no question that Sony, like Apple in the nude photos hack, didn’t do enough to prevent the exposure. In 2011, Sony’s Playstation network was hacked, costing the company $171 million in damages and repair. Amazingly in the wake of that, Sony reportedly didn’t even encrypt sensitive data such as passwords and employees’ Social Security numbers.

The saving grace for Sony and victims of hacks may be that as it becomes increasingly difficult to keep secrets from determined hackers, the public will become less and less judgmental. Even a few decades ago, the release of nude photos was enough to cost Miss America her crown. However mortified they might be personally, none of the celebrities outed in the nude picture hack can claim much if any damage to their professional life. So it is with Hollywood hypocrisy and scandalous personal behavior, which has never been in short supply.

Short of revelations of serious crime—such as the rape allegations Bill Cosby is facing—the public will simply consume any behind-the-scenes drama as something akin to a bonus track on a DVD. If anything, expect seemingly unauthorized “hacks” to become strategically deployed to pique curiosity about projects. Certainly, The Interview is a more interesting movie when we know that studio executives wanted to tone it down.

And expect Hollywood players—phonies that they are—to be the most forgiving of all. Rudin and Pascal have already apologized for their “racially insensitive remarks” and Pascal has begun a ritualized apology tour by phoning the Rev. Al Sharpton and promising to go on the tax-avoiding MSNBC host’s show. Pascal has even managed to air kiss Angelina Jolie, the object of withering scorn in one of the most widely discussed email exchanges with Rudin. Most important, though, Rudin and Pascal have reportedly also forgiven each other for their harsh comments. Because in Hollywood, after all, it’s who you know that counts most of all.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME cybersecurity

This Is the Most Shocking Document in the Entire Sony Hack Leak

Sony Hack
A logo of Japan's Sony Corporation is displayed at its headquarters in Tokyo on May 14, 2014. Kazuhiro Nogi—AFP/Getty Images

It's not sexy, but it shows how bad things really are

The hacking of vast amounts of internal Sony data continues to generate headlines. On Dec. 8, the aliases of nearly a dozen Hollywood celebrities were leaked. That is in addition to unreleased films, employee salaries, scripts, and other sensitive documents spilling out online. The hackers responsible are reportedly making increasingly threatening demands on the company.

The episode is likely to continue given the sheer volume of data obtained. And that may be the most significant aspect of the leak itself. According to security expert Brian Krebs, the scope of the breach is enormous:

According to multiple sources, the intruders also stole more than 25 gigabytes of sensitive data on tens of thousands of Sony employees, including Social Security numbers, medical and salary information. What’s more, it’s beginning to look like the attackers may have destroyed data on an unknown number of internal Sony systems. Several files being traded on torrent networks seen by this author include a global Sony employee list, a Microsoft Excel file that includes the name, location, employee ID, network username, base salary and date of birth for more than 6,800 individuals.

To get a sense of the size, consider this filetree posted by Krebs, included in the leaked data. It’s not juicy like a celebrity’s secret code name or the musing of Sony employees about Adam Sandler’s career. But this mere skeleton of some of the information stolen is shocking in its scope.

Read More: The 7 Most Outrageous Things We Learned From the Sony Hack

Sony Filetree
Brian Krebs
TIME cybersecurity

The 7 Most Outrageous Things We Learned From the Sony Hack

'The Interview' Barcelona Photocall
Seth Rogen (L) and Evan Goldberg pose during a photocall for their latest film 'The Interview' at the Hotel Mandarin on June 18, 2014 Robert Marquardt—Getty Images

From dissatisfaction with Adam Sandler to embarrassing gender statistics

The breach that crippled Sony at the end of November is not over yet. On Dec. 8, the aliases of 11 Hollywood celebrities were leaked, and internal information continues to leak about about the beleaguered company—from unreleased films to employee salaries to actors’ cover identities. And the hackers responsible are reportedly making increasingly threatening demands on Sony. Dubbed the Guardians of Peace, the hackers have allegedly called for monetary compensation, told Sony to stop the release of The Interview, and threatened employees’ families. Here are 7 of the craziest things hackers hitched from Sony.

Seth Rogen made more money than James Franco for The Interview. The hackers wormed into the studio’s movie budgets, and found that The Interview cost $44 million to make. Rogen is making $8.4 million and Franco is raking in $6.5 million. The two actors are co-stars, but Rogen (who is four years younger) also co-directed the film, which may be the reason for the salary differential.

Some people at Sony are not Adam Sandler fans. Based on a trove of workplace complaints discovered by Gawker, there’s some dissatisfaction with the 48-year-old comedian. “There is a general “blah-ness” to the films we produce. Althought [sic] we manage to produce an innovative film once in awhile, Social Network, Moneyball, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, we continue to be saddled with the mundane, formulaic Adam Sandler films,” said one Sony employee. “And will we still be paying for Adam Sandler? Why?”

Only one female Sony employee earns more than $1 million. The $1-million-and-over club at Sony is male and white. Just one woman, co-chair of Sony Pictures Entertainment Amy Pascal, is in the group.

You can watch unreleased Sony movies online. The hackers managed to leak files of major Sony films that are set to be released this year, including Annie, Mr. Turner and Still Alice.

Sylvester Stallone and Judd Apatow’s social security numbers are on the Internet as a result of the hack. So is their compensation, along with the salaries and personal information of a lot of other celebrities.

Tom Hanks, Jessica Alba and Natalie Portman have alter egos …and they sound kind of odd. The stars use aliases to do normal people things. Hanks is “Johnny Madrid,” Tobey Maguire is “Neil Deep,” Jessical Alba is “Cash Money,” Natalie Portman is “Lauren Brown” and Rob Schneider goes by “Nazzo Good.”

A script by the creator of “Breaking Bad” leaked, too. Vince Gilligan, the creator of “Breaking Bad” had an unreleased pilot of in the works, and hackers got a hold of that, too, according to Buzzfeed.

TIME Security

Sony Pictures Employees Get Threatening Email from Alleged Hacker

Emails to the movie studio’s employees threatening them and their families is the latest bad news for Sony Pictures since a cyber attack last week exposed sensitive documents

Last week’s cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment turned scarier on Friday when the hackers responsible reportedly threatened company employees and their families.

Someone claiming to represent the hacker group Guardians of Peace sent emails to Sony Pictures employees in which they promised to bring about the “collapse” of the company. The message, sent by the self-described “head of GOP,” asked that employees join the hackers in denouncing Sony Pictures or suffer severe consequences.

“If you don’t,” the message said, “not only you but your family will be in danger.”

Variety, which obtained the email, also reported that Sony Pictures, after becoming aware of the message, told employees to turn off their mobile devices. There is no word on the number of employees who received the message.

“We understand that some of our employees have received an email claiming to be from GOP,” a Sony spokesman told Fortune in a statement. “We are aware of the situation and are working with law enforcement,”

In total, the e-mail is four paragraphs long, contains bad grammar, and goes on to attack Sony Pictures while promising further unspecified action. It’s unclear how many Sony employees received the message.

“[W]hat we have done so far is only a small part of our further plan,” the email said. “It’s your false [sic] if you if you think this crisis will be over after some time. All hope will leave you and Sony Pictures will collapse,” the e-mail reads.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also investigating the matter. In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, the FBI said it was aware of the threatening e-mails and that it will continue to investigate the cyber attack.

Little is known about Guardians of Peace, which the email’s author described as “a worldwide organization.” The group took responsibility for last week’s cyber attack, involved leaking numerous sensitive company documents and causing Sony Pictures to shut down its computer system. Among the documents released was salary information for thousands of Sony Pictures employees as well as documents containing thousands of passwords to company computers, social media accounts and even financial accounts.

Reports surfaced earlier this week that Sony Pictures was set to blame the government of North Korea for backing the cyber attack, but the country has denied any involvement. Kim Jong Un previously called Sony Pictures’ upcoming release of the film The Interview — a comedy that depicts an assassination attempt on the North Korean leader — “an act of war.”

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME movies

Annie and Other Sony Pictures Movies Leak Online

JAPAN-EARNINGS-COMPANY-SONY
A logo of Japan's Sony Corporation is displayed at its headquarters in Tokyo on May 14, 2014. Kazuhiro Nogi—AFP/Getty Images

Three of the four known movie leaks have not had theatrical releases yet

It’s a hard-knock life for Sony Pictures.

Following a hack last week, high-quality versions of four Sony Pictures films — Annie, Fury, Still Alice and Mr. Turner — leaked online, The Verge reports, though there is no confirmation that the leak of all the films came from the same breach. The studio’s email system was also still offline at the time of the report.

The DVD-quality film leaks are believed to be rips of DVD screeners typically provided by the studio for awards consideration and other kinds of promotion. With the exception of Fury, none of the movies have been released in theaters, though DVDs of Fury are not yet for sale, either.

Sony condemned the leak without elaborating on its source.

“The theft of Sony Pictures Entertainment content is a criminal matter, and we are working closely with law enforcement to address it,” the studio said in a statement.

[The Verge]

TIME National Security

State Department Shuts Down Unclassified Email System Over Hacker Attack

The department's classified systems, however, remain unaffected

The U.S. State Department disabled its entire unclassified email system on Friday in the face of a cyberattack, a senior official said.

Technicians are working to repair the potential damage caused to the system by hackers and the State Department is expected to address the closure early this week once those repairs are made, the Associated Press reports.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said unusual activity was first detected in the system in October, around the same time hackers targeted the White House computer network. The U.S. Postal Service and the National Weather Service are among the agencies that have since reported similar attacks.

The department’s classified systems remained unaffected, and the unclassified email is expected to be operational again by Monday or Tuesday.

[AP]

TIME Security

G20 Conference Gives Hackers High-Profile Targets

AUSTRALIA-G20-SUMMIT
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (C) is welcomed upon her arrival at the airport in Brisbane to take part in the G20 summit on November 14, 2014. Peter Parks—AFP/Getty Images

Cybersecurity experts warn the global conference of world leaders is a prime target for hackers

At 3:10 a.m. on October 27, 2011, a less-than-diplomatic email landed in the inboxes of attendees at the G20 Summit, an annual gathering of heads of government and other representatives from the world’s top economic powers. “Ladies and Gentlemen,” the email began, “First Lady Nude Photos.” It was followed by a link that promised to open a stash of nude photos of France’s then-first lady, Carla Bruni. The link was also spring-loaded with malicious code that could infiltrate the device of a G20 delegate, opening a pathway to a wider network of devices. The sender needed only one hot blooded delegate to potentially infect an entire delegation.

It’s not hard to imagine the hacker or hackers’ motive. The G20 Summit draws leaders from 20 nations that comprise 86% of the world’s wealth. They bring in their wake some 4,000 delegates from various ministries, businesses and NGO’s, all of whom will converge on Brisbane, Australia Saturday for a weekend of handshakes and hobnobbing. They will also carry in their smartphones and laptops reams of sensitive communications, including agendas, talking points and trade secrets — a cornucopia of state interests that could offer rival nations an edge in future negotiations or standoffs.

It might sound a bit amateurish to send global bigwigs the same crudely-written emails that might turn up in the average joe’s spam folder, but security experts say hackers try every trick in the book to infiltrate the summit.

“Some groups that look spammy are the exact same groups that can send out extremely well-crafted emails,” says Nart Villeneuve, a senior researcher at the California-based security firm FireEye. The crude emails are often just the opening shot in a campaign that can extend to tainted memory sticks and emails that are indistinguishable from official G20 correspondence. FireEye researchers made headlines after last year’s G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia when they exposed a concerted attack against five European foreign ministries. In that case, an email attachment labeled “US_military_options_in_Syria” installed malicious code as soon as the recipient opened the official-looking file.

Villeneuve had a front row seat to the St. Petersburg breach. His team traced the malware back to a command-and-control server in China, where they observed a ring of hackers known as “Ke3chang” in action. For a brief, two week window, Villeneuve’s team saw the hackers issue commands to search for files and open backdoors to other computers of interest.

“The attackers don’t have to compromise a high level diplomat first,” Villeneuve said. “It can begin with anyone on that network.”

The St. Petersburg hack wasn’t the first time such a global gathering had been targeted: During the 2012 Olympics, for example, tainted schedules circulated among the attendees. And in the run up to 2011 G20 Summit, malware-ridden files infected roughly 150 computers in the French Ministry of Finance. “It’s probably the first time it’s been as spectacular as this,” said France’s Budget Minister François Baroin at the time.

But the high-profile hacks could very well get more spectacular until all attendees at sensitive events like the G20 collectively shore up their online security. Each delegation crafts its own security plan, but in an ideal world, says FireEye Threat Intelligence Manager Jen Weedon, attendees would use disposable phones and laptops that can be wiped clean of all content before and after the conference. Still, many attendees come from countries that may not have the interest or resources to take such measures, which many may view as extreme or unwarranted. “You can’t expect them to become security experts overnight,” Weedon says. But G20 delegations ignore the security risks at their own peril: already, Weedon says, Tibetan activists at this year’s conference have been targeted by a malware-infected document related to protest information.

Ultimately, the problem of hackers running amok at global gatherings runs deeper than technology alone. All hacking scams exploit human vulnerabilities — lust, credulity, curiosity — that can’t always be solved with a smarter spam filter. “It takes a human to click on something,” observes Weedon, a warning that this weekend’s assemblage of power players may or may not heed when the promise of official correspondence or other tempting links land in their inboxes. They’re only flesh and blood, after all.

MONEY identity theft

10 Easy Ways to Protect Your Data in the Cloud

Step up the security around data you upload to the cloud with these 10 useful tips.

While movies have portrayed hackers as both good (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and evil (Live Free or Die Hard), the one thing that is clear is that they can do a good deal of damage.

Several female celebrities, such as Kate Upton, Jennifer Lawrence, and Hayden Panettiere, became victims of malicious hackers, who nabbed several intimate pictures from the celebrities’ cloud storage accounts.

And if you think that this just happens to celebrities, think again. Even common folks like you and me are being exploited by malicious hackers. It is time to step up the security of your data on the cloud with these 10 useful tips.

1. Create a Stronger Password

A strong password is your very first line of defense against anybody trying to hack your account. Unfortunately, your password is usually the weakest link. In fact, 76% of cyber attacks on corporate networks are due to weak passwords.

Strengthen your password using these security tips from Microsoft:

  1. Make the length of your password at least eight characters. If you want to make it absolutely uncrackable use 15 characters or more.
  2. Skip using your real name, last name, or company name.
  3. Don’t build entire words with only letters.
  4. Use a combination of numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and symbols (@, #, $, and %), if applicable.
  5. Update passwords regularly and make them significantly different from previous ones.

Using these guidelines, you can create a strong password like this one: ILuv2PlayB@dm1nt()n. By picking characters from the full set of allowed printable characters, you force hackers to guess from 645 trillion possible combinations.

2. Store Your Passwords Securely

That’s not a typo. Yes, you need several passwords. Hackers exploit the fact that about 55% of Internet users use the same password for several services. The last thing that you want is that after your Dropbox account gets hacked, your online banking account becomes the next target.

It goes without saying, keep your password to yourself. Don’t store it on visible places, such as taped to the back of your keyboard or smartphone.

In a perfect world, you would just memorize them. However, a more realistic approach is to keep an offline notebook in a secure place or use a password management application, such as KeePass Password Safe, LastPass, 1Password, or Password Safe.

3. Activate Two-Factor Authentication

On top of your password, you can often add an extra layer of security by activating two-factor authorization (also known as 2FA). Without 2FA, hackers only need your username and password to access your data.

Several cloud-based services, such as Dropbox and Office 365, offer 2FA by sending you a code via text or phone call that you need to access your account. It’s an extra step, but once you’ve set it up on all of your devices, you are good to go.

4. Keep Your Birth Date Private

But don’t just stop there.

  • The name of your first pet
  • Mom’s maiden name
  • Last four digits of your social security number
  • Name of the street that you grew up in

What do these have in common? They’re all potential answers to security questions to retrieve your password or access to your account. When selecting your security questions, make sure that their answers are not a simple Google search away.

Hide your birth date and any other private information from your bio section from any social media sites, online forums, or websites. The more private your personal information is, the less likely that a hacker can find it through search engines.

5. Learn the Process to Report Hackers

Almost every service has a way to submit a report when you think somebody else is using your account. Here is an example from Microsoft.

By investing the time in becoming familiar with the process of recovering access to your account, you are better prepared for the day that you have to rely on this process. This will help you keep some sanity during that stressful time and know what information is necessary.

6. Be Wary of Public Wi-Fi

Over 95% of American commuters use free public Wi-Fi to complete work on the go.

The problem is that about 60% of them admit they will utilize any free Wi-Fi source they can find. Data transfers happening over public Wi-Fi networks aren’t encrypted, so hackers can exploit these public networks to tap into tablets and smartphones.

By setting up “hot spot honeypots,” digital thieves tempt people with the offer of free Internet, and gain access to all kinds of private data. And they’re not doing anything too high tech: hackers just need a $100 device and can be up to 100 feet away from their victims.

Use these strategies when attempting to connect to a public Wi-Fi:

  • Verify the official name of the network with the place offering it. Don’t assume that every business or public space offers free Wi-Fi.
  • Only activate the Wi-Fi feature of your device, when you are about to access a Wi-Fi network that you have verified.
  • If planning to review work files, use your company Virtual Private Network (VPN) network, if one is available. VPN encrypts all your data during your session and and hides the identity of the servers to which you are connected. Depending on the nature of your industry, you may never want to risk viewing company files without a VPN connection.
  • Keep your device’s operating system up to date. For example, Apple is constantly releasing security updates to address system vulnerabilities for iPhones and iPads.

7. Prevent Automatic Upload of Media

If you keep the default settings from cloud storage services, such as iCloud or Dropbox, then all of your photos and videos may be automatically uploaded to the cloud.

If you’re planning to take some photos and videos that are meant for your eyes only, make sure to update the settings of your cloud storage accounts. Nobody can hack for intimate photos or videos if there are none available online in the first place.

  • iPhone Users: To prevent photos from automatically uploading from your iPhone or iPod to your iCloud account, you can go to Settings > iCloud > Photo Stream, and turn off My Photo Stream.
  • Android Users: You need to check any auto-backup settings you can find on individual apps. Some examples of apps uploading media automatically to the cloud are Facebook, Twitter, and Dropbox. Check the settings menu of your apps and disable any photo-syncing that you’re not comfortable with.

8. Backup Your Media Offline

While it is important to prevent undesired media from ending up in the cloud, it is equally important to backup the data that is important to you. An offline backup of your media is not only important for when your phone is lost, stolen, or severely damaged, but also for when somebody hacks into your cloud account and deletes all of your data!

Most smartphones provide a way to back up your device’s media that is not cloud-based and that can be stored in your personal computer. For example, Apple devices can leverage iTunes to create backups, and Samsung devices can backup through the Kies software.

9. Beware Fake Messages

If you use cloud based storage services, be on the lookout for phishing emails.

These emails may look like real messages from the developers of the service, but they are not. Hackers are trying to trick you into providing your personal information.

Here are some red flags to watch out for:

  • The spelling of the sender’s email is funny looking. For example, instead of xxx@dropbox.com, it reads xxx@dropboxx.com or xxx@drop-box.co.
  • The hyperlinked URLs have misleading domain names. For example, if you hover over a link, you notice that instead of going to the apple.com domain, it goes to apple-com.info.
  • The message contains plenty of misspellings or typos.
  • You are asked to submit your password or personal information, such as mailing address, phone number, or social security number, via email.
  • The message includes a form in Word or PDF format for you to fill out.
  • You’re asked for money to cover for expenses.

If you see any of these red flags, don’t click on any of the links, and delete the email immediately.

10. Delete What You Don’t Want Anybody to See

In an era of potentially unlimited storage through the cloud, we are tempted to keep everything.

  • THOSE pictures from your bachelorette party,
  • Intimate videos or sexts with your current or past partners,
  • Progress pictures when you started your diet,
  • Financial or tax documents over 5-years old, or
  • Scanned copies of IDs from several years ago.

If you don’t want anybody else getting their hands on your data, delete it. This is the only way that you can be sure.

Read more articles from Wise Bread:

TIME women

A Million Peeping Toms: When Hacking Is Also a Hate Crime

"Serena" Premiere - 58th BFI London Film Festival
Jennifer Lawrence attends the premiere for "Serena" during the 58th BFI London Film Festival at Vue West End on October 13, 2014 in London, England. Stuart C. Wilson—2014 Getty Images

Soraya Chemaly is a media critic and activist.

Technology isn’t just mirroring offline crimes but amplifying them in ways that qualitatively change their impact

In her first public statements about the theft and distribution of her private nude photographs, Jennifer Lawrence called the act “a sex crime.” There are differences of opinion about using those words to characterize what happened. What is not debatable however is that, of the reportedly more than 100 celebrities targeted in this episode involving Lawrence, the overwhelming majority have been women. So, why aren’t we seriously discussing this in terms of gender-based hate? That’s also a serious charge.

The nonconsensual distribution of intimate photos is similar to offline voyeurism in many ways. We call these voyeurs Peeping Toms, a classic linguistic minimization of a sex crime that, like revenge porn, is gendered. Peeping Thomasinas aren’t really a thing. (The crime is treated differently state by state. In some states, but not all, voyeurs must register as sex offenders. Revenge porn is a non-registry offense.)

“There is no principled way to argue that this is any less serious than voyeurism,” explains Mary Anne Franks, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Miami School of Law and Vice-President of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. “There is no denying the blunt truth of [Lawrence’s] words: she alone has the right to control access to her naked body, and anyone who violates that right has committed a profound and inexcusable wrong. That means that laws against hacking are insufficient to address this violation.” Danielle Citron, author of Hate Crimes in Cyber Space, has also argued that these crimes clearly infringe on women’s civil rights.

However, what happens when there are millions of Peeping Toms? Given the scope and number of people who participated, and the time and effort the hackers took to gather the photographs and carefully plan their release, it’s clear that technology isn’t just mirroring offline crimes but amplifying them in ways that qualitatively change their impact and should prompt serious debate about gender-based hatred and bias crimes.

Federal hate crime legislation does not actually require that perpetrators of crimes express explicit hatred for the people they target. Instead, the salient information is that hate crimes are those in which a person is targeted because of, in this case, his or her gender. In addition, a “prominent characteristic of a violent crime motivated by bias is that it devastates not just the actual victim and the family and friends of the victim, but frequently savages the community sharing the traits that caused the victim to be selected.” While men are also the victims of revenge porn, as with the threat that a serial rapist of women poses to a community, how can anyone doubt that girls and women experienced the theft and sharing of these photos, which overwhelming involved women, in ways that men did not?

This wasn’t a privately executed sex crime, but a public one infused with gender bias. As the systematic theft, accumulation and mass sharing of these photos shows, we live in a culture in which violations of women’s privacy are normalized, where harms to women are routinely trivialized, where our sexual objectification is the norm and where society resists legitimate and reasonable consideration of the role gender and status play in what happened. (There have been at least four waves of photo released, the last of which included the first man.)

It’s not just that photographs like Lawrence’s violated women’s rights to privacy and constituted theft, or that they might be considered pornographic or offensive. It’s that the perpetrators sought to attack the women, humiliate them, assault their dignity, and interfere with their lives and well being because they are women. Revenge porn is overwhelmingly perpetrated against women by men, and is rooted in displaying male dominance. There is nothing new in this type of female dehumanization. What’s new is its digitized and scalable industrialization. The attack on female celebrities sends a clear message that even the most admired and powerful women can be treated this way.

We have a national predisposition to downplay gender as consequential. This November marks the fifth anniversary of the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, in which sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability were finally added to federal hate crimes law.

The purpose of the 2009 act was largely to ensure that people have the chance to pursue justice if they feel that their state courts have failed. Only some states have hate crime statutes and, of those, a sub-segment include gender as a category for consideration. The battle to include gender at the federal level was long and hard fought. Either way, social recognition of gender-based hate, as post Elliot Rodger’s public discussions showed, remains controversial.

Bias and hate crime laws exists so that members of groups that were historically discriminated against know that the societies they live in support their equal right to live their lives, raise their children, travel in public, and pursue their work, free of fear and discrimination. They are a challenge to social norms that would perpetuate violence and subjugation, an old-fashioned word no one likes to use in the United States, on the basis of immutable characteristics. Like being female.

If there is one silver lining in this, it’s that the women who were targeted are not being stigmatized or punished and that the trajectory of traditional shame seems to be reversing in a way that accrues to the perpetrator, and not the victims, of these assaults.

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