American A-listers are targeted for torment.
President Barack Obama relented to ABC News on March 12, after being questioned once again about the rumored intrusion into the first lady’s personal and financial information. As relayed in the interview, President Obama confirmed that there was an investigation under way, but declined to confirm that the information was correct. Personal information was stolen from several high ranking celebrities and political figures, including the First Lady, and subsequently published on the internet. The stolen information ranged from the vividly detailed to the terribly mundane.
Kim Kardashian’s lease information on her personal vehicle was disclosed, and Ashton Kutcher’s American Express bill was released “uncensored.”
While many see that information as innocuous, it was the credit reports, social security numbers, home addresses and private phone numbers that were among the more disturbing categories of information revealed by the anonymous hackers. Thirty solid pages of personal and/or financial information were released that belonged to LAPD Police Chief, Charles L. Beck. FBI Director Robert Meuller’s home address was also publicized.
The stolen information was hosted on an old Soviet website address issued in the 1990’s, according to BrisbaneTimes.com. The site Exposed.su also issued a tweet in Russian that the Brisbane Times says loosely translates into a veiled threat; “Hello world, we are exposed. Our goal is to show you all that this is only one of a few tricks up our sleeve.”
Along with Michelle Obama, other political limelighters, including former Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton and former V.P. Al Gore, were also targeted. The list goes on to include some of the most well known and well protected individuals in America; from celebrities like Donald Trump, Mel Gibson, Kim Kardashian, Britney Spears, Jay Z and Beyonce all the way to FBI Director Mueller and even Vice President Joe Biden.
The FBI is investigating the website and potential suspects of the hacking, as well as working with the Secret Service to determine whether the information is actually valid. Conflicting reports have muddled much of the stolen information’s validity. One phone number listed for V.P. Joe Biden reached a business located in Delaware.
Despite this confusion, it is clear that America has fully realized the dangers of hacking. These crimes, perpetrated anonymously by hackers abroad are reminiscent of crimes committed against British celebrities in the name of journalism by News of the World.
Celebrity attacks and telephone hacks across the pond (and by the media).
In 2011, Rupert Murdoch, the owner and founder of News Corp, was charged with ordering illegal wire-tapping and hacking of cellular phones that belonged to celebrities, public figures, pro athletes and even the royal family.
According to TheAtlanticWire.com six additional News of the World employees were arrested in Feb. on charges stemming from the 2011 investigation. As a result, one of those suspects has defected to the prosecution, divulging information that has led authorities to issue an additional 600-plus charges against News of the World.
Due to this new information, the investigation is expected to conclude sometime in 2015.
In 2002, News of the World reporters hacked the phone of a missing thirteen year old girl, Milly Dowler. In retrospect, investigators were able to calculate that the young girl had already been murdered at the time of the search. Yet, at the height of the investigation and search efforts, through a series of unethical and illegal attempts at breaking the story, News of the World reporters managed only to spectacularly mislead police, misinterpret the hacked voice-mails, hinder and misdirect the investigation, and finally disrespect the memory of a murdered teen.
This practice of hacking cellular phones continued unimpeded for almost a decade, until 2011. Ultimately, many journalists were arrested and charged with illegal hacking, News of the World was completely shut down, and millions in settlement payouts were ordered for News Corp’s victims.
It was this unethical snooping by the News of the World tabloid (a subsidiary of News Corp) which led to major legal recourse and industry-wide scrutiny.
UK Celebs stand up against unruly media.
Acting as a leader for wronged celebrities, Grant wrote his own column which was published in the U.K. news publication, The Guardian, attacking British Prime Minister David Cameron. Grant accused Cameron of siding with England’s “media barons” while failing to protect the public by not backing stronger media controls.
Grant is now working in a leadership capacity along with Harry Potter author JK Rowling for the non-profit celebrity-run group named Hacked Off, which advocates restricting the British media.
According to the Hacked Off website, HackingInquiry.com;
“Hacked Off was originally founded to campaign for a public inquiry into illegal information-gathering by the press and into related matters including the conduct of the police, politicians and mobile phone companies.”