Hacking and Double Standards in the media

Everyone know that I was hacked but a gutless coward who skulks in the shadows.

Our media as a result of the hack treated the conduit, Nicky Hager as a hero, pursued me, my friends and hounded people out of jobs.

We had done noting wrong, nothing illegal and yet they pursued us. We were vilified in the media, in social media and yet the fact remains that we did nothing wrong.

Our only ‘crime’ was to have differing political views to the hacker, to Nicky Hager and to the haters who vilified us.

Those same investigative journalists have never once attempted to investigate who the hacker was, who was involved or why they did it. There was zero balance., it was just a feeding frenzy in an attempt to unseat a popular government.

Now they are speaking at hacking conferences making themselves complicit in the hack.

Simon Brew at Den of Geek talks about the Sony hack and the lack of ethics from news outlets and journalists who have revelled in the hack.

Then, we’re at the Sony hack. This wasn’t a leak of a set picture, or a tip off from a source. This was people hacking into a company’s servers, stealing private information, and making it available without their consent. Thus, not only have certain films leaked, but so have documents relating to an assortment of Sony projects. These involve major franchises and a lot of human beings.

The major news outlets couldn’t wait to delve through them and run the stories.

Let’s make no bones about this either: there were some juicy, major stories in there. Huge ones in some instances. However, I can’t shake the feeling that they were obtained by theft. That outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter – to name just a handful – are, ultimately, benefitting from stolen property, and feeding on the spoils of it. Some are reporting it as a leak. But it’s not a leak. It’s an illegal hack. Bluntly, a theft. 

So why is this okay? Why has there not been a moment to even stop and contemplate what this means? In the UK at least, many have reacted with shock and outrage, for instance, at the phone hacking scandal that’s asked serious questions of the practices journalists undertake to obtain their stories. But that’s what this is too, isn’t it? The context and content may be different, but the core remains.

Maybe it’s because Sony is a big corporation, and is seen as a firm that can take it. After all, that’s true on both counts. But does that make it right? Does that mean that if hackers attacked any server, then the information they obtain would be fair game for anyone trying to knock out a 300 word news story against a deadline?

I’d argue not. In fact, I’d argue this was a great chance to draw a line in the sand. And I commend the outlets – generally the smaller ones – who resisted the click bait opportunity to post a story. And then there’s Empire magazine. There’s not a syllable about the leaked stories on its website, and for an outlet of its size, it’s taking a massive traffic hit by resisting them, the same for Total Film.

But – and it sounds horribly old fashioned to say this – running the stories would surely be the wrong thing to do.

And let’s be clear: nobody’s perfect. We’ve run material before based on a picture that was leaked, or something that we discovered afterwards wasn’t official. There’s a lot of stuff in grey areas, and it’s not always possible to make the right call.

But still: doesn’t the line have to be drawn somewhere? And I’d argue that the line has to be drawn in a way that’s clear whether you’re a big company or a two person outlet. If someone broke into your house, stole your personal documents and published them online, you would – quite rightly – be incandescent. Again, let’s make no bones about the fact that that’s what’s happened here. And whilst the stories may well be juicy, they’re also private. They’ve not been earned by investigative journalism, or good interview techniques. They’ve not been released by the company concerned. They’ve been uncovered by traipsing through stolen documents, in search of website hits.

And yeah: I know. I’m back on a soapbox, and I expect to be shot down. But this feels important to me. Either it’s right to run material gained from server hacks or it isn’t. It’s not a tricky divide. If Sony starts talking about individual stories? That might be different. But with one single source, and that source being what it is, I think running stories based on said material is wrong.

Unfortunately, many of the same outlets who claimed moral outrage when earlier leaks happened this year are feasting on this theft though, without a second thought. As someone who’s had ups and downs with Sony, and its products, over the years, I just think that’s double standards, and wrong. No matter how good the resultant story.

The standard has dropped forever now.

One day someone is going to hack David Fisher and Matt Nippert and the editors of the NZ Herald and they won;t be able to say a word about the display of all their dirty little secrets. They created the environment where criminals are the ones who decide what is public interest based on their own crazy prejudices.

You reap what you sow and the NZ Herald sowed more than most.


-Den of Geek

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.