A Hollywood lawyer who represents numerous undisclosed female celebrities whose private photos were leaked online by hackers on Aug. 31 has threatened to sue Google, Inc. for $100 million.
Attorney Martin Singer – who previously represented John Travolta, Charlie Sheen and “X-Men” director Bryan Singer – wrote to Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, as well as chairman Eric Schmidt, for failing to take the photos off their websites.
In his letter, Singer accuses the tech giant of “making millions and profiting from the victimization of women,” and failing "to act expeditiously, and responsibly to remove the images."
Takedown requests, according to him, were sent within days following the leak. However, several images are still on Google-owned websites YouTube and Blogger.
“Google knows that 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 and basic human decency," Singer said, according to the New York Post.
While the hack contained photos of numerous celebs, including actresses Jennifer Lawrence, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kate Upton and singer Ariana Grande, Singer’s clients remain anonymous.
Singer’s challenge to sue Google may be considered a strange step for a number of reasons: first, the photos were not put up by the company. They were, in fact, stolen via Apple’s iCloud.
Apple Inc. even accepted the fact that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by “a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions.” However, they tried to get away with it by saying “it is a practice that has become all too common on the Internet."
Google, as Business Insider’s James Cook noted, and its employees are not really responsible for what people choose to publish on the Internet.
“The system is an algorithm that simply detects what other people have published,” Cook states.
Even if Google keeps a strong check on the photos in questions, they will keep popping up on the search engine, uploaded by the same people who now – essentially – “own” the photos.
Google responded to the lawsuit via emails to media outlets including The Independent and Mashable.
“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.”
Make sense. Doesn’t it?