Should hacking of Jennifer Lawrence’s nude photos be considered a “sex crime”?

YOUR RIGHT OF THE DAY: You have the right to protection against hacking, which includes unauthorized access of your computer, other devices, or cloud based data.

The people who hacked and posted JLaw’s nude photos did all kinds of wrong, both morally and legally. First, it seems pretty clear that by hacking into her iCloud account, they violated the above described federal anti-hacking law, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. (You can report hacking incidents to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a service of the FBI).

They also likely violated copyright law (see our recent post on how she used “takedown” notices to quickly remove photos from the web), and state privacy law.1It could be a violation of the law of “public disclosure of private facts,” see for example, Forsher v Bugliosi (1980) 26 C3d 792. And possibly “intruding on solitude,” see for example Shulman v Group W Prods. (1998) 18 C4th 200

But should hacking nude photos be considered a “sex crime” as JLaw argues in a recent interview with Vanity Fair?

What does it mean to call something a “sex crime”?

There is no universal legal definition, but generally it refers to sex-related crimes that involve increased jail time and/or require a person convicted to register as a sex offender.

But aside from the legal definition, it’s also about whether the public considers something a sexual offense or not. Of the 4 “opinionators” who weighed in on the question in the LA Times, only one said hacking and posting someone’s nude photos should be considered a sex crime. The other three noted that it was almost certainly a hacking crime, as described above, but not a “sex crime.” Some argued that calling the hacking a sex crime reduces the seriousness of the concept of sex crimes.

What do you think? Does it even matter whether we call it a sex crime or not?

Photo: "Jennifer Lawrence at the 83rd Academy Awards" by Mingle MediaTV - Flickr: Jennifer Lawrence at the 83rd Academy Awards Red Carpet IMG_1081. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jennifer_Lawrence_at_the_83rd_Academy_Awards.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Jennifer_Lawrence_at_the_83rd_Academy_Awards.jpg

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