Yes, Even Celebrities Have a Right to Privacy

Mon Sep 01, 2014 23:02:45PM | Categories: Laws & Crime

Jennifer Lawrence conducting a Q&A at the 2013 Comic-ConBy: Pat Loika
The recent release of photos purportedly showing Jennifer Lawrence and a number of other celebrities naked is a serious breach of privacy that should upset anyone who believes in the ideal that everyone, even celebrities, have an inalienable right to privacy. This right is not something that is given away whenever an individual achieves stardom and it must be protected.

Lawrence is one of countless celebrities who have seen their most intimate moments broadcast for the world to see, but the rise of revenge porn and voyeuristic websites that make millions off of broadcasting unauthorized and intimate photographs and videos is a new phenomena that has to be reined in before we lose one of our most fundamental rights in this country, which is the right to be left alone.

Individuals who say that celebrities and other individuals just shouldn't take intimate photographs or make videos of themselves with a partner are misinformed and are perpetuating this problem. Every individual has an absolute right to be intimate with a loved one and should be able to be themselves with their partner. If an individual feels comfortable taking photos or videos with their partner then that is their right and no one should be forced to censor themselves out of fear.

There are typically two types of people who illegally release these kinds of photos and videos: revengeful ex-boyfriends and hackers. The ex-boyfriend who does this is typically angry that his girlfriend broke up with him and wants to shame her by broadcasting her to the world. The law has been woefully slow in addressing this issue, but some are finally beginning to step up to the plate and are making it illegal for a former boyfriend to post what has come to be known as revenge porn. There are currently only eleven states that have laws prohibiting revenge porn, but the remaining states and the Federal Government have been missing in action in addressing this issue.

Many free speech advocates have successfully fought 'involuntary porn' lawsuits on the grounds that it violates the websites First Amendment right of protecting their freedom of speech. This is a difficult argument because the courts typically tend to err on the side of free speech rights, even if the 'speech' they are protecting is abhorrent. Needless to say, the issue of revenge porn is one that is extremely complicated and difficult to address.

The other type of people who release this garbage are hackers, as is the case with Jennifer Lawrence. Here the law is much clearer. The Federal statute prohibiting hacking is the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. This is a 1980's era law that has been reauthorized and expanded multiple times, most recently in 2008. Each of the fifty states also have state laws prohibiting computer crimes. These laws have been used to successfully prosecute multiple individuals who have hacked into celebrities' accounts and released unauthorized photographs and videos. This law was most recently exercised in 2013 when Christopher Cheney was sentenced to ten years in prison for releasing private photographs of Scarlett Johansson and many other celebrities.

Whether you agree with an individual's decision to pose for photographs or videos with their partner or not, everyone should agree that those who release that to the public at large should be charged and given a stiff penalty if they are found guilty. Everyone has a right to privacy in this country, even celebrities.
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