‘Next time it won’t be celebrity secrets,’ warns Democrat on privacy hack

The release of hundreds of stolen nude and sexually suggestive photos of celebrities could propel Congress to get moving on new legislation to protect people’s data.

After pictures of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Kirsten Dunst and other female stars were posted online this weekend, officials in Congress said that the hack should inspire lawmakers to act.

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“Next time it won’t be celebrity secrets but students’ educational records that rain down from the cloud for the world to see,” Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyDemocrats offer cybersecurity bill for 'internet of things' Democrats introduce SWAMP Act to ban meetings with foreign leaders at Trump properties Flight attendant union endorses Markey in Senate primary battle MORE (D-Mass.) said in a statement on Tuesday, while expressing support for a bill he wrote with Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump holds more Medal of Freedom ceremonies than predecessors but awards fewer medals Trump to award Medal of Freedom to former Attorney General Edwin Meese Trump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom MORE (R-Utah) to protect students’ data held by private companies.

“The compromise of celebrity information should signal the beginning of a big debate on how to strengthen the protections of American children’s most sensitive data that is now being stored in the cloud,” he added. “We need to pass student privacy legislation that requires companies to put in place data security safeguards that protect information they house about our children in the classroom.”

A spokesman for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is led by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Kate Upton’s uncle, said that the panel “is continuing to monitor these latest breaches." 

“These incidents further underscore why data security legislation is needed, and the committee is continuing to work toward a workable and bipartisan solution,” Charlotte Baker said in an emailed statement to The Hill.

Since a hack at Target last year jeopardized data about as many as 110 million people, lawmakers in both the House and Senate have made moves to write new laws for protecting people’s data online. Those efforts, however, have largely stalled amid tensions over committees' authority and lack of consensus about which measures to implement. 

It’s not clear that any of the pending bills would have prevented the hack of celebrities’ photos.  

The images — some of which may have been faked — appear to have been stolen from celebrities’ accounts on Apple’s iCloud storage system. The tech giant on Tuesday said the theft was the result of a “very targeted attack” on specific users, and not a problem with its cloud storage service.

The FBI is investigating the incident, and individual victims of the theft have also pledged to press charges.