Man Charged In Celebrity Nude Photo Leak May Face Up To Five Years In Prison — UPDATE
In August 2014, nude photos of more than 100 people, including many celebrities were stolen from hacked Apple and Google accounts. And now, seven months later, a 36-year-old Pennsylvania man named Ryan Collins has been charged with violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in relation to the hacking, NBC News reports. Collins has agreed to plead guilty to one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information.
Update: On Thursday, Oct. 27, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Collins has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison.
Earlier: As Variety reports, this theft of nude images of celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence, Kim Kardashian, Ariana Grande, Rihanna, Selena Gomez, and many others, is considered felony computer hacking. According to official from the U.S. Attorney's office, Collins could face up to five years in prison.
According to the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney's office, Collins signed a plea agreement and prosecutors will recommend he serve only 18 months in prison in exchange for his plea, but that all depends on the sentencing judge. As Mashable reports, even though Collins has admitted to hacking the accounts and obtaining the photos, investigators "have not uncovered any evidence linking Collins to the actual leaks or that Collins shared or uploaded the information he obtained," according to the Justice Department.
"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,” David Bowdich, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s L.A. field office, said in a statement. "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."
Per Variety, U.S. officials also claimed that between November 2012 and September 2014, Collins' "phishing" scheme led him to obtain usernames and passwords from the victims who appeared to have an Apple or Google email. Prosecutors also claimed there were some instances Collins in which downloaded all of the contents of the victims' Apple iCloud backups.
In an October 2014 interview with Vanity Fair, Lawrence spoke out about the photo leak and said,
It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime. It is a sexual violation... Anybody who looked at those pictures, you’re perpetuating a sexual offense... Even people who I know and love say, "Oh, yeah, I looked at the pictures." I don’t want to get mad, but at the same time I’m thinking, I didn’t tell you that you could look at my naked body.