Scarlett Johansson just spoke out on the horror of revenge porn — and it's a must-read

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On Jan. 1, 2011, a hacker named Christopher Chaney accessed Scarlett Johansson's personal email account and asked a friend to send private photographs of the actress, which he then published online. The next month, the FBI showed up at his door. Chaney was eventually sentenced to 10 years in prison, but the damage was done.

"Who doesn't want to protect their own privacy?" Johansson told CNN's David McKenzie in a September 2011 interview. "Just because you're an actor or make films or whatever doesn't mean you're not entitled to your own personal privacy. If that is sieged in some way, it feels unjust. It feels wrong." 

Then came Celebgate, in 2014, another massive attack on female celebrities. And in March of this year, hackers targeted actors Amanda Seyfried and Emma Watson in another release of private photos. Also in March, news broke that Marines were using a private Facebook page to share nude photos of women without their consent. 

Over six years after the original nude photo leak, Johansson spoke out again on the invasion of privacy during an interview with Howard Stern on Monday. 

"It was absolutely shocking and devastating at the time," Johansson told Stern. "It was such an invasion. I just felt like as a woman, I felt like it's such a degrading and awful thing to have to go through that. It feels particularly invasive when you are in the public eye and you're like, 'What else can I give you?'" 

Source: YouTube

It's also important to understand, as Johansson pointed out, that cracking into a victim's email account isn't a feat reserved for top-tier hackers. "It's not that hard!" she said. "It's a low-level hacking thing — we're not talking about the dark web here."

She's right, and this point in particular is worth exploring. Crimes of revenge porn and sextortion are achievable even if hackers have no advanced technical skills or high-tech tools. As Ars Technica pointed out, one simply needs a search engine and an internet connection to carry out the type of hack that led to the dissemination of Johansson's private photos. 

Johansson  Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

About 10.4 million people have been threatened or targeted with revenge porn. This is why it's essential that both Silicon Valley and the law take cybersecurity seriously. More rigorous legislation and tools must be developed to protect personal information and vulnerable users, and legislators should push to make revenge porn illegal on a national level. 

Tech companies can help by ensuring that nonconsensual explicit content is not just removed when reported — it's prevented from being posted in the first place. "Tech platforms ... should adopt preemptive measures against it, as they have done with child pornography and are beginning to do with terrorist propaganda," Mary Anne Franks, vice president of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, told Wired. But considering Facebook's inability to prevent even more egregious violations, we may have a long way to go.