Google responds to letter from 4Chan celebrity victims demanding $100m in damages for allegedly failing to delete nude images

Entertainment lawyer Marty Singer wrote to the internet giants demanding that the company pay damages for 'knowingly accommodating' the photos

Jenn Selby
Saturday 04 October 2014 10:35
Rihanna is reportedly among the dozen or so female 4Chan hacking victims who wrote to Google demanding damages
Rihanna is reportedly among the dozen or so female 4Chan hacking victims who wrote to Google demanding damages

Google has replied to a letter written on behalf of a dozen undisclosed female victims of the photo hacking scandal.

In it, they threatened to sue the company for $100million for failing to delete private images of them.

Entertainment lawyer Marty Singer – who has previously represented John Travolta, Charlie Sheen and more recently X-Men director Bryan Singer – wrote to the internet giant demanding that the company pay damages for “knowingly accommodating, facilitating, and perpetuating the unlawful conduct” of the 4Chan thieves.

They have since responded to the letter, addressed to CEO Larry Page and Executive Chairman Eric. E. Schmidt and titled ‘Google’s Repeat Copyright And Privacy Violations In Connection with Hacked Photo Scandal’.

“We've removed tens of thousands of pictures ̶ within hours of the requests being made ̶ and we have closed hundreds of accounts,” a spokesperson for Google told The Independent.

“The Internet is used for many good things. Stealing people’s private photos is not one of them.”

In the body of the warning letter, Singer accused Google of neglecting to “to act expeditiously, and responsibly to remove the images”.

Photos of actress Jennifer Lawrence were published on the internet

“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 wrote.

“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.”

The letter was sent after a third wave of private images of famous women, including Cara Delevingne, were leaked on the internet.

A second wave of naked pictures, thought to depict female stars including Kim Kardashian and Rihanna, emerged online just a week previously.

The actresses Vanessa Hudgens and Aubrey Plaza, designer and former child star Mary-Kate Olsen, and US soccer player Hope Solo were 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."

Justice and Grande both said that the pictures were fake, although Lawrence’s spokesperson verified their authenticity.

Representatives for Upton said they were "looking into" the authenticity of the intimate images.

Ricky Gervais went on a back-tracking spree on the social media site after he was criticised for 'victim blaming', while Emma Watson also took to Twitter to voice her condemnation of the breach.

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