Now, news reports suggest that Miley Cyrus, Kristen Stewart and other celebrities are currently going through a similar ordeal.
Dozens of explicit photos are believed to have been posted on a porn site, with one of the images allegedly showing Cyrus with her ex-girlfriend Stella Maxwell (Stewart’s current partner).
Stewart and actress Katharine McPhee both reportedly appear separately in stolen topless photos. Others are said to show golfer Tiger Woods with his former girlfriend, Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn, images which are thought to have been hacked from Vonn’s phone.
The International Business Times reports that Wood’s attorney is threatening to sue the porn site – which we have chosen not to name here – if the pictures are not taken down.
Vonn’s spokesperson, meanwhile, released a statement to People condemning the cyberattack.
“It is an outrageous and despicable invasion of privacy for anyone to steal and illegally publish private intimate photos,” he said. “Lindsey will take all necessary and appropriate legal action to protect and enforce her rights and interests.
“She believes the individuals responsible for hacking her private photos as well as the websites that encourage this detestable conduct should be prosecuted to the fullest extent under the law.”
The mass hack has been compared to ‘The Fappening’, the disturbing name given to a major leak of private photos in August 2014. Then, almost 500 pictures, mostly of female celebrities, were posted on the imageboard 4chan before being spread across social networks such as Reddit.
Two hackers were later found to have gained access to the celebrities’ photos through targeted phishing scams that encouraged victims to enter their usernames, passwords and security questions.
One of the men involved, Ryan Collins, was jailed for 18 months last year after admitting “gaining unauthorised access to protected computers to obtain information”.
A second man, Edward Majerczyk, was sentenced to nine months in prison in January.
Back in 2014, Jennifer Lawrence – one of the women victimised by Collins’ actions – described the hack as a “sex crime”.
“Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this. It does not mean that it comes with the territory,” she told Vanity Fair.
The actress continued: “It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime. It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change.”
She’s right, of course. It doesn’t matter if a woman takes private photos of herself, or of her partner, or of the two of them together. It doesn’t matter what she’s doing in those photos. It doesn’t matter if she’s famous. It doesn’t matter if she is naked. And it still doesn’t matter if she has posted revealing photos of herself online before. Stealing explicit photos and publishing them online without a person’s consent is abusive, misogynistic and wrong – and those who do it should feel the full weight of the law.
Updates to follow.
Images: Rex Features