Technology

Nude selfie celebs were 'dumb', EU commissioner says

Günther Oettinger Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Günther Oettinger later said: "Everybody has a right to privacy"

The EU's next digital head has refused to apologise for saying celebrities were "dumb" for taking intimate pictures that were later leaked.

Günther Oettinger was highly criticised for comments including: "Stupidity is something you can only partly save people from."

He will become the EU's digital economy and society commissioner in November.

One MEP, Julia Reda, laid into the commissioner: "The statement is unbelievable," she said.

In a blog post, Ms Reda - who represents the Pirate Party - said: "The person applying to be in charge of shoring up trust in the internet so that Europeans do more business online, just blamed people whose personal data was accessed and spread without authorisation.

"He placed the moral blame for that crime squarely on the victims rather than the perpetrators."

Ms Reda posted a video of the meeting on YouTube.

When asked by the BBC to clarify his comments, Mr Oettinger said: "Everybody has a right to privacy. The EU Commission wants to make cloud computing safer."

Asked if he would like to apologise for, or expand on, his comments, Mr Oettinger's spokeswoman told the BBC: "No."

'Dumb enough'

Mr Oettinger was speaking during a meeting in Brussels on Monday. He was referring to the leak of intimate pictures featuring more than 80 famous women, including actress Jennifer Lawrence and pop star Rihanna.

Members of the 4Chan message board first posted the images, which appeared to have been obtained by accessing private cloud storage accounts.

Before making the comments Mr Oettinger said he was being "semi-serious".

After hesitating, he went on to say: "The fact that recently there have been an increasing number of public lamentations about nude photos of celebrities who took selfies - I just can't believe it.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Jennifer Lawrence was the most high-profile victim of the celebrity hacks

"If someone is dumb enough as a celebrity to take a nude photo of themselves and put it online, they surely can't expect us to protect them.

"I mean, stupidity is something you can not - or only partly - save people from."

Critics of Mr Oettinger's view have pointed out that while the images were technically "online", they were in fact kept private - the images were stolen from private cloud accounts belonging to the celebrities.

Ms Reda said: "By making a mockery of what he should recognize as a serious problem and by doing it in this aloof and insulting tone, Günther Oettinger is seriously calling into question whether he is qualified for the job of shaping our digital society for the next five years."

Der Spiegel said the comments demonstrated that Mr Oettinger had "no clue about current events and issues at the core of his new resort".

Follow Dave Lee on Twitter @DaveLeeBBC

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