A dozen undisclosed female victims of the photo hacking scandal that saw hundreds of private and indecent images of celebrities shared online are threatening to sue Google for $100million for failing to delete them.
Famed entertainment lawyer Marty Singer – who has previously represented John Travolta, Charlie Sheen and more recently X-Men director Bryan Singer – has written to Google demanding that the company pay damages for “knowingly accommodating, facilitating, and perpetuating the unlawful conduct” of the 4Chan thieves.
A copy of the letter, which you can see here, has since been published via US site TMZ.
Titled ‘Google’s Repeat Copyright And Privacy Violations In Connection with Hacked Photo Scandal’, it is addressed to Google CEO Larry Page, Executive Chairman Eric. E. Schmidt and co-founder Sergey Brin, among others.
In the letter, Singer accuses Google of neglecting to “to act expeditiously, and responsibly to remove the images”.
“Google knows the images are hacked stolen property, private and confidential photos and videos unlawfully obtained and posted by pervert predators who are violating the victims’ privacy rights, yet Google has taken little or no action to stop these outrageous violations.”
He goes on the allege that Google are “making millions and profiting from the victimisation of women,” but says that, “because the victims are celebrities with valuable publicity rights you do nothing – nothing but collect millions of dollars in advertising revenue … as you seek to capitalise on this scandal rather than quash it.
“Like the NFL, which turned a blind eye while its players assaulted and victimised women and children, Google has turned a blind eye while its sites repeatedly exploit and victimise these women,” he writes.
Singer sent the letter via his law firm Lavely & Singer on behalf of a number of clients, who remain anonymous.
He further claims that he sent a notice to Google to delete the images in question four weeks previously, but that many still appear on Google-owned sites, such as YouTube and BlogSpot.
A Google spokesperson said: “We've removed tens of thousands of pictures - within hours of the requests being made - and we have closed hundreds of accounts. The Internet is used for many good things. Stealing people’s private photos is not one of them”.
The letter has purportedly been sent after a third wave of private images of famous women, including Cara Delevingne, were leaked on the internet.
The actresses Vanessa Hudgens and Aubrey Plaza, designer and former child star Mary-Kate Olsen, and US soccer player Hope Solo are reportedly among those vicitimised.
There were also new nude pictures purportedly of Jennifer Lawrence.
Last month, over 100 household names were the target of online thieves, who stole scores of naked photographs and intimate videos and posted them on the website 4Chan.
Several of the images – in particular, two of Hunger Games star Lawrence – quickly circulated on Twitter.
The original list had also included Olsen and Hudgens, as well as Ariana Grande, Jessica Brown Findlay, Mary E Winstead, Mary E Winstead, Cara Delevingne, Kate Bosworth, Selena Gomez, Kate Upton, Kirsten Dunst and Kaley Cuoco.
The FBI and Apple are both conducting investigations into the apparent widespread invasion of personal accounts thought to be connected to the iCloud service.
A spokesperson for Lawrence said at the time: "This is a flagrant violation of privacy. The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence."
Representatives for Upton said they were "looking into" the authenticity of the intimate images.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies