Cloudy Apple; Celebrity pictures go viral following iCloud hacking

Andy Boyde

Andy Boyde

Apple has come out publicly to confirm that iCloud accounts belonging to approximately 20 celebrities were broken into but are adamant that there is no evidence to suggest that this was caused by a security system breach.

Following a thorough internal investigation of their operating systems Apple released the following statement to the international press:-

“We have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the internet…None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud or Find my iPhone.”

The unfortunate result for A-list celebrities, such as Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence, is that without the highest possible security measures being put in place what she would have regarded as ‘private’ is anything but and a leaked topless photo of her instantly went viral.

So what should this recent celebrity hacking scandal compel Employers and Employees to consider? Internet studies indicate that nearly two-thirds of all UK internet users have an active Facebook account, but can users really be confident that their profiles are ‘truly’ private?

The case of Gill v SAS Ground Services Ltd ET/2705021/09 confirmed that an employee was fairly dismissed where Facebook updates of her choreographing and auditioning at London Fashion week whilst on fully paid long-term sick leave were brought to the attention of her Employer.

In this instance the Employment Tribunal were clear that the employee had acted in a clearly dishonest manner and the effect that her behaviour would have on her colleagues who knew she was on full sick pay would have been truly demoralising.

The starting point for clarity in relation to privacy issues on social media platforms for both employers and employees will be a well drafted social media policy.

A social media policy can be a standalone policy which has the benefit that it can meet the fast changing world of the internet by being regularly updated and reissued but in practice actually ensuring the employer holds signed copies of the latest version is a much harder task.

Alternatively a social media policy can be incorporated into an existing employee handbook. It is best practice to make the policy non-contractual so that amendments can be easily made to reflect changes in the law.

Andy Boyde
Trainee Solicitor
Employment Department
0113 207 0000

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