Google Threatened with $100 Million Lawsuit over Hacked Celeb Photos

Jennifer Lawrence
Rindoff/Dufour/French Select/Getty Images

Internet giant's response: 'We've removed tens of thousands of pictures' and act on takedown requests within hours

Google is being accused by a Hollywood lawyer representing several women whose photos were stolen from their Apple iCloud accounts of failing to remove images from its services — with an explicit threat of a lawsuit demanding more than $100 million.

In a letter addressed to Google’s top brass, lawyer Marty Singer of L.A.-based law firm Lively & Singer said that Google not only has failed to expeditiously remove the images from sites including YouTube and Blogspot but also knowingly facilitated the hosting of the hacked photos.

“Google is making millions and profiting from the victimization of women,” Singer alleged in the Oct. 1 letter, sent to top Google execs including CEO Larry Page and executive chairman Eric Schmidt. “As a result of your blatantly unethical behavior, Google is exposed to significant liability and both compensatory and punitive damages that could well exceed One Hundred Million Dollars ($100,000,000).”

SEE ALSO: Celebrities Exposed in Massive Nude Photo Leak

In response to the letter, Google said in a statement: “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.”

According to Singer, his firm is representing “over a dozen female celebrities, actresses, models and athletes” whose private photos were accessed after their Apple iCloud accounts were hacked. The letter does not identify the women.

The hack attack came to light Aug. 31 after hundreds of nude and partially nude photos from personal iPhone accounts of dozens of actresses and personalities, including Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Kirsten Dunst and Selena Gomez, were posted online.

Apple, in response to the incident, previously said neither iCloud nor Find My iPhone were breached but that it was cooperating with law enforcement agencies to investigate what it called a “very targeted attack.”

SEE ALSO: Apple Says iCloud Not Breached in ‘Targeted’ Photo Hack

According to Singer, his firm over the past four weeks has sent more than a dozen takedown requests to Google to remove the images of its clients under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. But “while responsible providers like Twitter are immediately removing the images and suspending the offending user accounts, Google is perpetuating the despicable conduct of these habitual pervert predators,” Singer wrote, including Blogspot accounts that he claimed have acted as some of the main sources for the stolen photos.

Google says its turnaround on DMCA requests is typically hours — not weeks — and that it has been proactively removing the celeb photos based on terms-of-service violations (such as nudity or privacy violations) on YouTube, Blogger and Google+. The Internet giant also noted that, like other web services, it relies on people to flag inappropriate content or file takedown requests.

In addition to removing the images in question from its sites, Singer is demanding that Google “immediately remove all Google search engine and Goggle image search results for and which display the hacked stolen Images.”

In full rhetorical stride, Singer compared Google’s alleged inaction on expunging the photos from its services to the controversy swirling around the National Football League’s widely criticized handling of recent criminal acts of some of its players.

“Like the NFL, which has turned a blind eye while its players assaulted and victimized women and children, Google has turned a blind eye while its sites repeatedly exploit and victimize these women,” the attorney said in the letter.

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  1. Crotsy says:

    Although I do not like the fact that someone hacked these ladies accounts and stole their personal photos, which is all kinds of creepy…..that said I do not understand how they can sue Google over this?….it will (as mentioned in another comment) probably get settled or thrown out before it ever goes to court………….but as a side note, if the ladies are going to take nudes of them selves, which they are perfectly allowed to do, then shouldn’t they delete them or save them elsewhere? I mean they thought these were locked down and no one would get access except them, and some assh%#e did this and it is wrong, but if you don’t want people to see you naked then don’t take naked photos maybe? An di realize I am belittling the situation and i do apologize to those it offends

  2. Paul says:

    Why are they not suing Apple? They were sold a service by Apple which they failed to provide. Instead they choose to shoot the messenger? Google does not control the entire internet. Bur Apple does control the security on they phones and systems that they sell to their customers, clearly a case of broken contract between Apple and its famous customers.

  3. Yeah just make some money… This is real stupidity. Google had no part in this affair. This is perfect way how to make people not care about women victimization, because now they see just some idiotic lawyer and his clients trying to make money, not get justice.

  4. Matt says:

    Why aren’t they suing Apple? Why aren’t they going after the hacker(s)? What does Google have to do with anything in this situation?

  5. Truth Detective says:

    A pure shake down by an ambulance chasing lawyer. I think I’ve seen his ads on the sides of LA buses. Truly ridiculous.

  6. Barbara Streisand effect in full swing here. No matter how much you sue people and threaten, they’ll just keep appearing and appearing.

  7. Steve says:

    This lawsuit reminds me of the woman who sued McDonald’s because her hot coffee was too hot.

  8. google was built to gather information on the internet no one change that. I really think persons need to be educated about security on the internet and therefore they will be able to make better judgement on what they do on the internet. Don’t go blaming an algorithm for doing its job. And to sum it all up the internet is public not private so think before you act or networks like piratebay will have a field day with you poor judgement.

  9. DorothyParkerlite says:

    As much as I feel for the women involved in the photo leak, having Google selectively remove information from its search engine could set a precedent for the larger issue of censorship. Where will it stop and who gets to decide what people can and cannot search for? It’s ironic the NFL scandal was brought up since none of it would have been found out WITHOUT the release of the footage that caused a public reaction to the allegations that the NFL condones criminal behavior. Google is a tool and not necessarily at fault unless they advertised those photos themselves as a way to entice users to use their product. The people actually responsible are those who would abuse that tool for criminally selfish needs. Basically, the pimps of the Internet. Let’s see someone finally have the balls and dedication to go after those creeps.

  10. Chelsea says:

    I was agree with you Annabelle.

  11. Annabelle says:

    Finally!Finally! All these pics were stolen and all these women were harassed from perverts. This is a modest but important first step toward justice

  12. J.E. Vizzusi says:

    I agree this suit will be thrown out before it even starts. You make the decision to shoot and store images on your devices. And those images if not protected and secured can be seen by others. If in fact the images are stored as part of an Apple product, then Apple does have the responsibility of the protection of your images if indeed the images are in any way or form moved and or stolen. And it is Google’s responsibility to delete any known photos not authorized by Google members. But it all come down to your own decision to create the photos in the first place and then to save the images on devices that use said Companies databases. Read the fine print of these services that store your information closely.

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