PRIVACY + SECURITY BLOG

News, Developments, and Insights

Jennifer Lawrence’s Nude Photos and Civil Rights Law: An Interview with Danielle Citron

Online Harm

“It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting.
The law needs to be changed, and we need to change.”
Jennifer Lawrence on her nude photos being
non-consensually disclosed online

Fairly recently, Jennifer Lawrence’s iCloud account was hacked and her private nude photos were stolen and posted online. She was mortified.

Her case is just one of many, according to Professor Danielle Citron (University of Maryland School of Law), who very recently published a book about online harassment, Hate Crimes in Cyberspace (Harvard University Press 2014).

Citron - Hate Crimes in Cyberspace

It is a compelling and provocative book. It is a bold book. And as the recent news stories indicate, it is a book that couldn’t be more timely and more needed. One might think that online harassment is rare. Who would write such mean and vile things? What kind of person would harass Zelda Williams, the daughter of Robin Williams, who was viciously attacked online immediately after her father’s death? Even Caligula would show more humanity.

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Blogging Can Get You Sued: Privacy Tort Suit Against Washingtonienne Blog

Washingtonienne - Jessica Cutler Washington Post Magazine Cover

Back in the summer of 2004, a clerk on Capitol Hill blogged about her sexual exploits on a blog called Washingtonienne.  A very interesting article in the Washington Post Magazine describes what happened:

The instant message blinked on the computer at Jessica Cutler’s desk in the Russell Senate Office Building. “Oh my God, you’re famous.” Before she could form the thought — “famous, cool” — or puzzle how she, a lowly mail clerk, had escaped obscurity, a second instant message popped up on her screen. Startled, Jessica recalls, she began to curse.

“Your blog is on Wonkette,” the message said.

Jessica’s blog (short for “Web log”) was the online diary she had been posting anonymously to amuse herself and her closest girlfriends. In it, she detailed the peccadilloes of the men she said were her six current sexual partners, including a married Bush administration official who met her in hotel rooms and gave her envelopes of cash; a senator’s staff member who helped hire her, then later bedded her; and another man who liked to spank and be spanked.

Wonkette is a popular online gossip column that was read by lots of Jessica’s friends and Capitol Hill co-workers, including some of the men in her blog.

The messages warning Jessica that her private little joke had just gone very public came from a girlfriend over on the House side. . . .

Typing and clicking her mouse at a desperate pace, Jessica logged on to blogger.com, the electronic bulletin board where she’d posted her sexploits under the pseudonym Washingtonienne, and deleted her blog, hoping she’d blown her diary into oblivion.

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