Nude Celebrity Photo Leak May Get Google Sued

By Joelle Renstrom | 7 years ago

jlawIf you’ve been on the internet at all in the past month, you know about the big scandal concerning the hacking and disseminating of nude photos of a bunch of female celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence. The photos were stolen, it seems, from users’ iCloud accounts and possibly smartphones as well, and then leaked on the 4Chan web forum. It’s still not 100% clear what happened, or essentially, who messed up what, but the victims are understandably motivated to find out. Lawyers representing a group of them—it’s not clear exactly which ones, but there are “over a dozen female celebrities, actresses, and athletes” involved in the suit—are threatening to sue Google over the breach, to the tune of $100 million.

Hang on—before we get to Google, what about Apple? Sure, Apple has denied culpability, insisting that even though the photos may have been obtained through iCloud, Apple systems aren’t to blame. Maybe the hackers obtained their passwords, but it wasn’t due to a flaw in iCloud or Find my iPhone or any other Apple app or program, according to the 40 hours of investigating Apple experts conducted. It’s also possible that users who took the photos on iPhones didn’t realize they were being backed up on the iCloud. So we’ll see what happens with Apple, but suffice it to say that someone has to pay, and if that someone isn’t Apple, then how about Google?

But what’s Google’s involvement in the whole mess? Apparently, victims of the hack argue that Google profited from their exploitation, particularly when it decided not to remove all of the photos from YouTube and BlogSpot. Apparently, Justin Verlander, who was in a bunch of the photos with Kate Upton, served Google with a legal takedown notice, as well as a list of 461 sites where the photos appeared. Within a week, Google had removed just over half of them from its search engine. The other 49% remain on the search engine, though some of those sites have been scrubbed or otherwise made defunct.

The group has hired Marty Singer as their lawyer, a guy who the New York Times refers to as “guard dog to the stars” given his work for celebs such as Arnold Schwarznegger, Charlie Sheen, Quentin Tarantino, and Sly Stallone. Yesterday, Singer’s firm, Lavely and Singer, sent a brutal letter to Google’s founders and lawyers, calling them, among other things, “pervert predators.” Ouch. Google hasn’t responded yet, and the likelihood of the case going to court is unclear. But Google’s been burned on this issue before, so now might be a good time for the company to get reacquainted with its “don’t be evil” motto.