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Jennifer Lawrence nude photos: Sharing not a scandal, it's a crime

Date

John Birmingham

Breach of privacy ... actress Jennifer Lawrence

Breach of privacy ... actress Jennifer Lawrence Photo: Getty Images

The theft and publication of personal data from Jennifer Lawrence and a number of other women was widely reported on Monday as a scandal. It was not. It was a crime. The unknowable number of people who republished those stolen images were not sharing or gossiping or having a bit of fun at the expense of wealthy celebs who should have known better.

They were accessories to a crime. Not just of theft, but a form of assault.

They debased every woman whose image they shared, and they shamed themselves in doing so.

It seems strange that we have to have these Decency 101 tutorials to explain to such a large number of people why it's wrong to publish images stolen from others, but apparently we do.

So here's my contribution.

Nobody was asking for it.

It is entirely irrelevant that those women chose to record an image of themselves of a deeply private and intimate nature. To argue otherwise is posit the destruction of privacy for everybody, everywhere at all times. It is established for instance that state surveillance technologies can take hostage pretty much any internet connected computer in your house. Doesn't mean they will, of course. You're probably not that interesting. But if the NSA can do it, some code-mashing Gollum at 4Chan won't be far behind. Did you ask anybody to take pics of you on the crapper while you were playing with your phone? 

Too bad.

Somebody just took one and posted it to Reddit.

Celebrities don't sign away their private rights for a movie deal or recording contract.

This is a favourite excuse of those who pay their bills by stalking and exposing the private lives of public figures. But even those whose professional lives are lived in the public realm remain, in their souls, entirely private. As human beings they are entitled to that privacy. You are not entitled to violate it. Ever.

Ah, there's nothing I can do about it.

Yes there is. You can choose not to republish the stolen, personal data, and you can unfollow, de-friend or cut off in whichever way appropriate anybody who publishes that material into your various media streams. You can tell them why you're doing it. This is the way we teach toddlers to behave themselves in the grown-up world. It seems to be the only way to get the message through to some grown-ups too.

The internet is cool. We all loves us some funny cat vids. But it is also a fraught and hazardous place where we often find ourselves drawn, unthinking into behaviour we would never contemplate in the real world. Would you walk around the Queen Street mall sharing nude photographs of Jennifer Lawrence? I doubt it. You might even recognise that sort of behaviour as a crime, not just low-class douche baggage.

This is a lesson you can apply even more widely once learned. For instance, if a bunch of death-obsessed psychopaths cut the head off a young man and posted the photos online, would you print out a thousand copies and walk around showing them to everyone you passed?

Again I doubt it.

In which case, don't do so online either. You're just making things worse.

Insert exasperated sigh here.

End of rant.

120 comments so far

  • Just one question. Since when did it become normal to play with your phone while on the crapper?

    Commenter
    MrTransfield
    Date and time
    September 02, 2014, 12:16AM
    • I think he is referring to the girl who took a selfie of herself on the toilet and has since done the rounds so many times she is now on a demotivational poster. 2 seconds on google should find her.

      Commenter
      RA22
      Date and time
      September 02, 2014, 8:49AM
    • The point about surveillance is vital, not just in regards to the UK scandal. Anyone who wants to try can access anyone using technology, including images and private home life. This crime is highlighted because it happened to a celebrity but also ex girlfriends and victims of muck raking get targeted too.

      Commenter
      LJanes
      Date and time
      September 02, 2014, 9:02AM
    • Well give us one reason that would make it abnormal, MrTransfield.

      Commenter
      cjs
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      September 02, 2014, 9:15AM
    • cjs, well after using the phone in the toilet, its going to be exposed to high level bacteria...

      Commenter
      MrTransfield
      Date and time
      September 02, 2014, 9:42AM
    • If you maintain a clean environment, and keep all the bacteria in the bowl where it belongs, I don't think the toilet is that hazardous a place...

      Commenter
      cjs
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      September 02, 2014, 10:59AM
    • And if you flush the phone with selfie, problem solved.

      Commenter
      Problem Solver
      Location
      Toilet
      Date and time
      September 02, 2014, 12:01PM
    • cjs, that's the problem, you can't keep all the bacteria in the bowl, all it takes is one person to not wash their hands and then touch everything else in the toilet with bacteria hands and before you know it, you've got a hazardous toilet,

      Commenter
      MrTransfield
      Date and time
      September 02, 2014, 12:13PM
    • Mr Transfield, surely it depends on how good you look on the crapper?

      Commenter
      Party Stooge
      Date and time
      September 02, 2014, 12:42PM
    • I remember reading a study that found strep faecalis on toothbrushes in the basin 2 metres from the bowl.

      Commenter
      Problem Solver
      Location
      Toilet
      Date and time
      September 02, 2014, 1:06PM

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