Securing our privacy
Over the Labor Day weekend, many people celebrated the national holiday with barbecues or time off on mini-vacations. The rest and relaxation is a trade for the sacrifices our ancestors made for our workplace opportunities and securities.
In Hollywood, R&R was far from the minds of several female celebrities.
News surfaced this weekend about high-profile stars including Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst, Kate Upton and Ariana Grande. They learned that nude images of themselves had illegally surfaced on the Internet. Hackers allegedly swiped the revealing photos from the cloud and spread them for all the creepers to see.
The cloud is prime stalking ground.
For those who don’t know about the cloud, the National Institute of Standards and Technology defines it as a computing service where “shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility over a network (typically the Internet).” The cloud is where data is gathered.
And it has nothing to do with meteorology.
From what I gather, pretty much anything shared using a computer, smart phone or hand-held device, including texts, e-mails or posts on social networks, remain in the cloud. Just because we delete doesn’t mean it disappears. Of course that’s not a very technical interpretation.
In today’s digital age, lack of privacy is a reality. Hackers victimize us in many ways. Target, and just this week Home Depot, are large retail corporations whose customers have suffered from data breaches and hacking crimes. Usernames, passwords, account numbers, photos and videos we think might be deleted may exist in the cloud. That means videos of me doing the Running Man are out there, somewhere. And many photos of me with “The Rachel” haircut from the ’90s also exist. That is, if they were scanned, downloaded and shared.
Maybe that style will make a comeback.
The thought that information can be stolen and used for the benefit of others, as is the case in this week’s nude photo hacking crime, is no laughing matter. The thievery leaves those affected feeling exposed and vulnerable to additional victimization.
No one should have to experience that.
Today’s lack of privacy isn’t just reserved for Hollywood celebrities, or those in the public eye. This is our reality, and we are all in it together. We can apply certain security settings to the tools we use to share information. We can immediately report unusual activity on our accounts. We can be diligent in looking out for our children and monitoring their social media use.
They can be the youngest victims of all.
A friend of mine with a teenager was just saying over the Labor Day weekend that life today is nothing like when we were in high school. That was about 25 years ago, if anyone is keeping score. Smart phones are everywhere — at football games, parties, church lock-ins, you name it. Photos and videos can be taken at any time, and posted immediately, without others’ knowledge. I remember when I was about 18, almost 19, someone took a photo pointed up my skirt on Spring Break. He had it developed at the local drug store — that process was required back then — and showed it to a bunch of people. I think he even carried it around in his wallet.
Talk about creepy.
I was mortified and embarrassed. People told me not to worry about it. I don’t even think I mentioned it to my parents. The crazy part is I felt like it was my fault for wearing a mini skirt that day. That’s ridiculous, considering many teenage girls in the early ’90s wore them all the time. I also knew it was wrong of him to show the photo to others. But somehow I felt as if I did something wrong.
That’s how that kind of shaming works.
I realize now maybe I should’ve told an adult about it. I figured he was kidding around, but maybe he was more serious than I thought. Maybe it was just youthful indiscretion, and he feels terrible about it now. I remember laughing it off because I could always take a joke. And I was always joking around with other people. To this day, I can still take a joke.
Just not one like that.
That photo was not funny because it invaded my privacy. And that’s what has happened to the female celebrities involved in this latest Internet crime. Maybe if we all take a stand against creeps and not support sites that expose even our most public of people, we can send a message that posting photos without people’s consent is wrong, no matter who the person is.
And that we’re not going to take it anymore.
April E. Clark is hoping the hackers are discovered and prosecuted. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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