Sony Pictures “The Fast and the Furious” series is hacked, and it seems like hacking will go on continually. The cyber criminals got their control over lots of data from Hollywood Studio and have been releasing them online with label “Gift of GOP” for every release. GOP stands for “Guardians of Peace”, as what they call themselves.
The latest releases that were posted in Github last Monday and from Pastebin on Wednesday were tagged “The Privacy”, which contains the emails of Sony Pictures honchos Stephen Mosko and Amy Pascal along with the company’s top lawyer inbox.
According to the hackers, they will stop providing leakages if the Sony Pictures will stop “showing the movie of terrorism that threatens regional peace”, from which we take up Seth Rogen and James Franco’s “The Interview”. This film is a comedy film regarding journalists who were requested by the US government to liquidate the leader of North Korea.
Nevertheless, this latest hacking incident have not mentioned anything about “The Interview”, which is forming doubts about the concept of killing the movie is what the real motive of the hackers.
A lot of information are being stolen from Sony Pictures such as documents that include celebrities, phone numbers, aliases of Hollywood stars used for hotel bookings, the insulting mails the movie maker have written regarding the actors/actresses from their films and even about the Sony Pictures’ president.
FBI recently visited Dan Tentler, the security expert who managed to comment regarding the Sony Pictures hacking to the press as well as the one who determined the Playstation network of Sony is used for the distribution of the stolen data.
Tentler was out of town during the weekend, so it is not confirmed if the FBI was able to question him regarding his know-how and ask for his expertise.
Does FBI keeps track of the IP address used for downloading the hacked documents from Sony Pictures? It is simple only if they have been monitoring the torrents posted by the hackers.
According to the spokesperson Laura Eimiller of FBI Los Angeles Bureau, she could not comment since the investigation is still going on about the hacking of Sony Pictures.
When FBI is there to discuss about the possible criminal offence, what should be the meaning of “illegal downloading?”
Hanni Fakhoury, Electronic Frontier Foundation’s lawyer said that “There is no crime of illegal downloading”, but there is a criminal liability for acquiring stolen data, he added. It is certainly a crime under the law to receive stolen property.”
The media professor of Columbia University and former general counsel of the Wall Street Journal, Stuart Karle, disagreed. According to Karle, “Sony Pictures has lost control of its information. The documents have been published by the hackers.” He also added that “They are now public virtue of being put on the internet.”
Karle has compared the hacker in posting internal emails, personal information and budget documents online on placing them on the billboards at the heart of the city and said “Do you really expect people driving in L.A. and not look up to the information there?”. He added its Sony Picture’s fault; they should take appropriate steps to keep their trade secrets.
According to a professor from George Washington University and former federal prosecutor Orin Kerr, employees of the competing Hollywood studios might have violated their Economic Espionage Act once they have downloaded documents in getting Sony Picture’s trade secrets.
Fackhoury blunted out that from the previous hacking that showed emails of government contractor Stratfor Global Intelligence, the prosecutors are running after Barrett Brown, who is a blogger and a spokesperson of Anonymous.
Barrett Brown was accused of Identity Theft as well as “trafficking in stolen authentication features”, just because he posted a link of the emails that are stolen from Stratfor that includes numerous credit card numbers and verification codes, even if his only intention is to uncover the government contractor’s debate about discrediting the journalists, political leaders and activists.
The government has lately realized the rationale and dismissed the accusation charged to Brown. However, Barrett Brown has signed an agreement plea earlier this year with related charges; acting as accessory of the hack and obstruction of search warrant and he is due to get sentenced next week.
It is unknown if how many individuals have downloaded the Sony Pictures secret documents, however it is a known fact that journalists have been one of them. The journalists’ right of reporting illegally acquired documents was recognized by the Supreme Court case of Bartnicki V. Vopper in 2001. In this case, Supreme Court has ruled that the radio commentator who has gotten a tape made from violated wiretapping act had the First Amendment right on playing it on his show.
If this illegally wiretapped calls containing public concern safety with the union worker on the call that threatens to ‘blow up porches of local school board members’ homes.’ “There’s no liability for a journalist who has been given illegally obtained information,” according to federal prosecutor Orin Kerr.
Lee Levigne from Levine Sullivan Koch & Schultz has discussed the Supreme Court case, which established the journalists’ right in reporting illegitimately obtained documents. According to Levine, the journalist reporting matters such as public matter is a protected area. What is unusual with this case is that the document delivery system.
Hackers have used off-hand email addresses to communicate with journalists and send them to the public sites to make the documents downloaded instead of sending documents to the emails directly or leaving packages with documents at their doorsteps. To make it short, once the material addresses the matter about public concerns and information is publicly obtainable, it is difficult for a court to charge the journalist of criminal charges.
Lavine added, this will now be a “pose interesting question”, if there is a law about the banning of hacked documents download. The companies with fear of getting hacked will surely push the congress to pass the law sooner.
Lavine also cautioned that as long as there are lots of documents that are being used of reporting news without public interest, the less likely it will get into the First Amendment protection.
Stuart Karle who stated that documents are public said that the “question of whether these journalists would report the secrets uncovered is not a legal matter; however it is an ethical one.”
Journalists have gone through the personal emails of Sony Pictures Amy Pascal these past few days to uncover the fight regarding the movie making of Steve Jobs and belittling talks about the big stars Kevin Hart and Angelina Jolie.
These journalists must determine if the said information within the documents is commendable to public apprehensions or not. To be precise, Karle said that “Journalist have to ask them, ‘How sticky it is to do this story?”