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What Federal Charges Can the Hacker Who Hacked Jennifer Lawrence’s and Kate Upton’s iPhone Expect?

What Federal Charges Can the Hacker Who Hacked Jennifer Lawrence’s and Kate Upton’s iPhone Expect?

This past weekend a number of celebrities iCloud accounts were hacked and some very personal (read: racy) pictures were made public.  Click here for an article with a rundown of other celebrities who were hacked.  This got me thinking of what the feds might do in response.  

While many agencies lay claim to jurisdiction over crimes related to hacking, the F.B.I. has primary responsibility for such offenses.  A quick search of Lexis-Nexis reveals a very likely response from a case in which Sarah Palin’s email account was hacked during the presidential campaign.  After the hacker outed himself online, coincidently, on the same website as the Jennifer Lawrence leak (4chan), the F.B.I. came calling.  Eventually, the hacker in Palin’s case was charged with four federal felonies:  (1) Identity Theft in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028(a)(7); (2) wire fraud for illegally obtaining electronic information belonging to Palin in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343; (3) improperly obtaining information from a protected computer in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(2)(C); and, (4) obstructing justice for trying to delete the information from his computer in violation 18 U.S.C. 1519 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.  For his efforts, the Palin hacker received a sentence of one year and one day in federal prison.  By contrast, the celebrity hacking case revealed much more personal and embarrassing information than Palin’s, involved many more victims than Palin’s case, and may have been motivated by financial gain.  As such, the hacker in this case may be looking at substantially more time in prison than Palin’s hacker.  With Ms. Lawrence’s publicist already threatening prosecution for anybody posting the leaked pictures, you can expect a very public demand for harsh punishment from the victim(s).

In addition to incarceration, the perpetrator in the most recent celebrity hacking case might also be sued civilly for invasion of privacy, or the like, or be subject to an order of restitution, which can follow the perpetrator for years to come.  Every time the celebs hacked photos are re-published, the victims, at least theoretically, have a claim that they have damaged yet again and, accordingly, should be compensated for their loss.  Similar claims commonly arise in child pornography cases, where the victim requests restitution anew when the illegal image(s) arise in a new criminal case.

This most recent hacking case again highlights the very real digital privacy issues that arise in our connected society.

#jenniferlawrence #kateupton #justinverlander #hackedphotos

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