The mass celebrity phone hack of September 2014 and subsequent leak of personal and sensitive celebrity photos and videos known popularly as “Celebgate” was an unsettling thing to see unfold, particularly because it was largely female celebrities and their bodies targeted in the hack and leak. Now, it looks like justice will be served to the perpetrators. Illinois man Edward Majerczyk is pleading guilty to the crime of illegally accessing the iCloud and Gmail accounts of more than 300 people using an e-mail phishing scam, sending e-mails that appeared to be from the security accounts of Internet service providers, like “email@example.com” and “firstname.lastname@example.org” that directed targeted individuals to a website and prompted them to give up their personal information. Majerczyk faces up to five years in prison, though with his plea deal, his sentence will likely be set somewhere in the range of six to twelve months.
In March, Pennsylvania man Ryan Collins plead guilty to the same type of crime crime, breaking into the personal e-mail accounts of 100 people, including celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst, and Kate Upton. Collins has not yet been sentenced, but prosecutors recommended a sentence of 18 months. The two cases aren’t related, both men were acting independently, but both of the hackers were caught as a result of the same FBI investigation. Neither Collins nor Majerczyk seem connected to the leak of the photos, just the hacking of the accounts.
“Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this,” Jennifer Lawrence told Vanity Fair in 2014, just a few months after the mass leak. “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. I can’t believe that we even live in that kind of world. ”
We couldn’t agree more. It was upsetting to see these powerful women made so vulnerable, it was, as Lawrence also said in her Vanity Fair interview, absolutely a “sex crime,” and it’s reassuring to see the feds bring the perpetrators to justice and, with hope, set a precedent, ensuring this type of crime is less likely to happen in the future.