The mysterious and damaging leak grabbed headlines across the world, but now someone is finally paying the price for ‘celebgate’.
The hacker who leaked hundreds of nude photos of celebrities in 2014 has pleaded guilty in a US court.
Ryan Collins, who is based in Pennsylvania, admitted to illicitly accessing over 100 Apple iCloud accounts between November 2012 and September 2014, as reported by the BBC.
The 36-year-old used a phishing scam to gain access to the accounts, including “at least 18 celebrities”. This involved fooling account owners into inadvertently handing over their login details.
As a result of the scam, Collins was able to leak photos of stars like Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead in an event known online as both the ‘Fappening’ and ‘celebgate’.
Model and actress Kate Upton was also a victim of the leak
“It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change,” said Jennifer Lawrence, speaking to Vanity Fair after the leak.
“Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this,” continued Lawrence. “It does not mean that it comes with the territory. It’s my body and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting.”
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Sentencing of Collins is yet to take place, but prosecutors are recommending an 18-month jail term.
“By illegally accessing intimate details of his victims’ personal lives, Collins violated their priavy and left many to contend with lasting emotional distress, embarrassment, and feelings of insecurity,” said David Bowdich, assistant director at the FBI’s LA office.
Bowdich continued: “We continue to see both celebrities and victims from all walks of life suffer the consequences of this crime and strongly encourage users of internet-connected devices to strengthen passwords and to be skeptical when replying to emails asking for personal information.”
The BBC reports that the FBI still has an “ongoing investigation” into the matter, and that there may be further arrests.