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    Sep 03, 2014

    FBI, Apple probe nude-pic leak


    THE Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Apple, which is poised to unveil new iPhones next week, are investigating reports that hackers used the company's iCloud service to illegally access nude photos of actress Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities.

    Hackers posted the nude photos on the anonymous image-sharing website 4chan, the Telegraph in London reported.

    The photos, which featured more than 100 American and British celebrities, were allegedly obtained by breaking into iCloud accounts, the newspaper said.

    A representative for Lawrence confirmed the photos were hers and called the situation a "flagrant violation of privacy", the Telegraph reported.

    The FBI released a statement on Monday, saying it was aware of the allegations "concerning computer intrusions and the unlawful release of material involving high-profile individuals".

    The agency is "addressing the matter", Laura Eimiller, an FBI spokesman in Los Angeles, said by e-mail.

    The FBI does not typically confirm investigations as a matter of practice, Ms Eimiller said by telephone on Monday. "Clearly there's a high public interest, so we felt it appropriate to provide a limited statement," she said.

    Nat Kerris, a spokesman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, said: "We take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report."

    The iCloud service, a key part of Apple's strategy to unite its iPhones, tablets and desktop computers, lets users store contacts, e-mail messages, photos and other personal information on external systems they can access virtually.

    Apple has fixed a bug in its "Find My iPhone" software that may have allowed hackers to gain access to the celebrity iCloud accounts, the Engadget technology website reported, citing developers.

    The alleged celebrity hack comes days before Apple's scheduled product announcement near its headquarters on Tuesday. Apple will introduce bigger-display iPhones and a wearable device at the event, people with knowledge of the plans have said.

    The celebrities hacked include reality TV star Kim Kardashian and singer Rihanna, the Telegraph reported.

    Actresses Selena Gomez and Kirsten Dunst were also among those affected, Time reported on its website, adding that the hackers promised to post more photos.

    "Data security is more important than ever before," Woodrow Hartzog, who teaches privacy at the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, said in a telephone interview.

    "We store our most personal intimate moments online, and it's absolutely critical that that information stay as protected as reasonably possible."

    Once private information like nude photographs are made public, laws in the US are inadequate to do much about it, he said.

    "These pictures are likely to persist," said Assistant Professor Hartzog. "It becomes a very difficult thing for anyone, whether a celebrity or any other victim of non-consensual pornography, to be adequately helped under the law."