The hacker behind nude photo leaks of several high-profile female celebrities has pleaded guilty at trial.
Ryan Collins, 36, admitted to leaking private photos of actress Jennifer Lawrence, singer Ariana Grande, model Kate Upton and others. He has been charged with felony computer hacking and one count of unauthorised access to a protected computer to obtain information. He faces five years in prison but prosecutors will recommend a jail sentence of 18 months, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
A statement issued by the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California alleges that Collins accessed at least 50 iCloud accounts and 72 Gmail accounts, “most of which belonged to female celebrities”, after sending phishing emails that claimed to be from Apple or Google.
“By illegally accessing intimate details of his victims’ personal lives, Mr Collins violated their privacy and left many to contend with lasting emotional distress, embarrassment and feelings of insecurity,” said David Bowdich of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.
“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.”
Speaking after nude photos of her surfaced online in 2014, Jennifer Lawrence called the leak a “flagrant violation of privacy”.
Lawrence later described the incident as a sex crime in interview with Vanity Fair. “The law needs to be changed, and we need to change,” she said . “Just the fact that somebody can be sexually exploited and violated, and the first thought that crosses somebody’s mind is to make a profit from it.”