Privacy is something that’s ostensibly important to Americans of all walks of life. But after Edward Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency was indiscriminately spying on all Americans, the sensible among us probably concluded that when it comes to the Internet, there’s really no such thing as privacy at all.
Whether or not that’s a fair or utopian situation, the fact remains that the Internet is not a playground for the uninformed. Computer wizards with ill intentions will figure out how to access data and systems they’re not allowed to as long as the Internet, in its current form, still exists.
When the news first broke over Labor Day weekend that a 4chan user had stolen suggestive images from over 100 celebrities – including Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and Selena Gomez – and released them online, many Internet-goers were ready to quickly offer their condolences to the female celebrities.
As well they should; while celebrities do give up a lot of their privacy when they become public figures, they don’t give up all of it.
And Now the Government Responds
Of course, since this case involves famous names, and Americans love to gossip, the government is getting involved in trying to track down the hacker responsible for releasing the images. The FBI announced it is trying to figure out who would access people’s personal information without their consent.
Isn’t that something?
So even though it’s a fact that the United States federal government is spying on its citizens – a practice which, I believe, will continue in perpetuity despite what the government says – it’s now time for our cash-strapped country to invest government dollars in tracking down a hacker.
What do you think their response would be to someone hacking into your account and stealing your pictures?
You don’t have to imagine; we’ve already seen it: The NSA doesn’t appear on the precipice of changing anytime soon. In other words, it’s pathetic at best and a horrific joke at worst that our government will actually turn its attention toward ensuring the privacy of some of its citizens, who in this case happen to be celebrities.
Why would it be pathetic? Because our country has been doing this exact same thing to us for years and years, all without a care in the world. Has our government, like most of society, devolved to the point where celebrities and all their misadventures are the pinnacle of existence? If the government is spending its time reading the gossip rags in the supermarket, rather than protecting each and every one of its citizens equally, that’s just pathetic – and an unfortunate sign of the times.
Why would it be a horrific joke? Since nothing really was done after Snowden’s revelations; for example, NSA Director James Clapper went on the record officially lying to Congress under oath, yet he remains employed. It would be terribly hilarious if the government decided to actually get its hands dirty following a celebrity-related scandal.
Is There a Takeway Here?
I think we can all come to some important conclusions here:
- It is most unfortunate that these celebrities had their personal pictures stolen and disseminated without their consent.
- It’s not far-fetched to imagine the government spending millions upon millions of dollars trying to track down this hacker only to come up empty handed. That, or we’ll net some 16-year-old pimply-faced kid who’s been grounded until graduation.
- If you haven’t concluded this on your own by now, you must draw this conclusion now: It is not safe to do anything or store anything online. If, for whatever reason, you take naked pictures of yourself, and if, for whatever reason, millions of people would be interested in seeing those pictures, it’s definitely not the best idea to store them online.
So there is a takeaway here. Americans collectively feel bad over the fact that these young women had their privacy violated. And that shared characteristic really shows the moral fiber that unites our country through all of our ups and downs. But. at the same time, this kind of invasion of privacy is occurring all the time, and nobody seems to actually care about it. Sure, our naked pictures might not have been stolen, but we’ve had other important things stolen – like personal communications, location-specific data, shopping habits, and more – and that thievery is likely to continue unabated.
As a country, we need to take a unified stance when it comes to how much we value privacy.
The sense of sadness and anger that has resulted from this latest theft of privacy needs to be carried over to the personal lives of all Americans. The fact that it happened to celebrities and not mere mortal folk shouldn’t be the only thing that gets us talking about what are very serious issues.
This hacker may very well be caught. I’d venture to guess it’s going to be some young, dumb kid who’ll be employed by Google or Apple, pulling a six-figure salary in a few years’ time.
Barring that, I’ll bet the NSA has a few job openings that would be perfect for him.
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