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Bezos Selfie Controversy Triggers Alarm for Billionaires Worldwide (bloomberg.com)
44 points by glassworm 76 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 54 comments

If I had to guess, the reason why David Pecker got worried about the Bezos investigation, is that the NSO Group's Pegasus Spyware[1] might have been used to hack into his mistres iPhone.

It's the same spyware, which Saudi Arabia used to break into Khashoggi's friend's iPhone[2], leading to his killing:

"Abdulaziz first spoke publicly about his contact with Khashoggi last month after researchers at the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab reported his phone had been hacked by military-grade spyware. According to Bill Marczak, a research fellow at the Citizen Lab, the software was the invention of an Israeli firm named NSO Group, and deployed at the behest of the Saudi Arabian government."

I think Jeff Bezos mentioned Saudi Arabia in his post so many times not accidentally.

And nobody should be surprised, if the 33 year-old crown prince made such an order after The Washington Post led the most negative coverage of his country in decades following the assassination of its contributor.

[1] https://citizenlab.ca/2018/10/the-kingdom-came-to-canada-how...

[2] https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/12/middleeast/khashoggi-phone-ma...

I suspect her brother got them. She probably wasn't en guard when she was around family, because why would she be?

There are a few companies out there catering for the wealthy when it comes to privacy and/or blackmail.

While on a trip to Monaco in 2017 I picked up a local magazine and found this ad in it: https://imgur.com/a/kB5veJO

Quite amusing.

Good money can buy a good chunk of 0-day exploits from black hats.

I wonder how many companies rely on in-house exploit research and what would be the turnaround related to buying from 3rd parties.

It's a bold move to take on Jeff Bezos whatever you think about the guy you have to admit when it comes will and willpower the man is tough.

That and he owns a newspaper.

Mark Twain said "never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel" (might have butchered that quote).

And this man also sells it by the barrel, along with the barrels...

I hope Bezos makes life harder for publications which deal in sleeze, be it the enquirer, the verge, tmz, buzzfeed, etc. Not only do journalists from these orgs play sleazy but even journos from regular magazines and daylies blackmail people into doing things for them: “give me dirt on so anc so of I’ll publish this big of news you won’t like”.

Yeah I suspect that his enemies are in for a very bad time. Bezos is nothing if not strategic.

I'm surprised they're taking the billionaire angle. The more significant one to me is the technologist angle.

I like to think I'm not a complete idiot around computers. I know a bit about networks and security and risk management -- probably well above the average person on this planet. Yet I'm realistic enough to realize that Bezos likely knows a lot more than me in these areas. And even he can slip up, or get taken, apparently.

I used to think that being knowledgeable about technology and careful in how I use it was enough. I'm gradually coming around to realize that it's more like radiation: there is no completely safe level of exposure.

The story is not that a rich person was gotten -- all else being equal, that's bound to happen just by pure chance. The story is that Bezos understands computer/network security as well as we should expect from anyone on the planet, and he was still gotten.

Love makes us all do crazy things, regardless of how well we may understand a subject or the possible implications.

I still dont understand why there is basically no service today who protecta my privacy, even if I am willing to pay.

Like facebook or whatsapp. I would pay monthly if they would stop aggregating and analyzing my every move. Hell, even for amazon, i know that if I buy anything, even look at anything, it gets thrown into my profile and aggregated. I dont even dare to use anything by Google... It may be paranoid, but all these models and their fitting of conditional expectations will force me to conform eventually.

For me, machine learning, especually with these data, in health, insurance, credit and career are seriously scary prospects. Maybe because i am a statistician...

I have money, but there is just no way to escape the profiling. My hope is that when the consequences hit the billionaires, perhaps there will be market for privacy concious services.

I used to be so positive about technology. Now i feel like tech companies and start ups just try to bs and deceive us. Almost no one is honest about what is collected, and privacy statements have become meaningless catch all allowences...

If it ever backfires, like here, lets be clear that amazon, facebook, google and co have only themselves to blame for their despicable and exploitative behavior

For messaging use Signal. For email use Proton Mail. For dumbass social media use one of the scuttlebutt apps or that decentralized twitter clone - Mastodon. For useful social media subscribe to good subreds on reddit or HN or just grab a book from the bookstore. I think we may even come up with different stacks of apps just as we have stacks for web dev. Like this one could be called PBRS - protonmail, books, reddit, scuttlebutt. Would be awesome if we could propose a few more.

Because you can't pay what other organizations are willing to pay for your information.

Whatever happened to if you don’t want it published on a billboard then don’t publish it to the internet? If you gotta do strange things like photographs like that then use a dumb camera and don’t send them online. Nothing is secure!

Maybe a secure camera app. With end to end encryption. As long as we can download the photos in encrypted form this should be usable.

There would be another crack in that system. Social engineering, shoulder watching, or an "ohhh crud right", aspect of the operating system, something. The only security is knowing you are not secure.

Not sure what this has to do with billionaires. I am assuming that if somebody takes naked selfies, and sends them to other people (which I assume is the point of taking them?), there's a chance they'd leak out. We've already witnessed such events in the past. Not sure how specific person whose image leaked this time being billionaire changes anything.

Maybe it's a good opportunity for security consultancies to reach out to physical security companies and integrate their services.

I am so intrigued how a naked picture can cause so much fuss in our society. We were born naked and everyone has likely seen other naked bodies.

I am oversimplifying a bit, but, maybe, some years from now, it simply wouldn't matter if people saw you naked online. Wonder if in Europe cultures where is common to have naked scenes in TV all the time it matter as much.

There is a difference between trusting SaaS providers (which has its problems with insiders, despite robust internal audits) and essentially “publishing” your secrets by emailing or texting sensitive information knowing its forwardable or copiable.

Why are there so many headlines about billionaires? Yesterday there was one about China having more billionaires. These guys can do whatever they want and I really don't care.

We should be more concerned about the lives of average people.

Why should we care about billionaires lees than anyone else?

Are you suggesting that if a billionaire was, say, kidnapped, you would have less sympathy than if an average person was kidnapped?

This is Hacker News, a forum run by a Silicon Valley venture capital company. A higher than average number of posters here either are wealthy, are trying to win the startup lotto, or just want to virtue signal as being worthy of elite capitalist status.

Not sure I would hire as a security chief someone with a fairly detailed LinkedIn profile

I can understand why. Most billionaires don't have a microphone recording 24-7 in millions of homes like Bezos does. So it's much harder for them to gain leverage over their potential blackmailers.

What did Alexa have to do with the Bezos blackmail controversy? I don't recall Bezos using anything gathered from Alexa to defend himself. He just published the blackmail threat.

What the parent is, I suppose, trying to refer to is the premise of Bezos as a hypocrite. They're sarcastially saying that Bezos has access to vast systems to snoop on and blackmail (or counter blackmail) other people using Amazon services. One of the sub stories occasionally being carried along with the larger selfie blackmail story (particularly among the privacy vanguard), is the notion that Bezos is a hypocrite. That's based on the premise that Alexa and other aspects of Amazon.com are abusers of privacy.

But there is zero evidence that he has blackmailed anyone. He would be a hypocrite if he did do it, but just because he has the ability to doesn't make him one. That's ridiculous.

That's like saying "You advocate against drinking and driving, but you yourself have alcohol in your house and own a car so you could drink and drive and that makes you a hypocrite". That's dumb.

I'm not trying to all Bezos a hypocrite - I would be extremely surprised if he or Amazon made use of their data. They have too much to lose if caught.

However there are other actors who are both unethical and have nothing to lose who most likely are taking advantage of these devices..

No, but he could easily have access to tons of blackmail material about others. Everybody is blindly trusting Amazon's honestly that they won't use it. And I certainly don't expect them to abuse it, but it's still weird to give them a permanently listening microphone in your home.

I agree and I don't own one myself for that reason. But, if Bezos had done that, it would have completely overwhelmed the story about him being blackmailed and torpedoed any public sympathy for him. We wouldn't be talking about the Enquirer blackmailing him, we'd be proposing laws to ban Alexa. It would be totally counterproductive for him.

My understanding is that these devices (Siri, Echo) do their speech processing online, so by design everything gets uploaded in order to be interpreted. How hard would it be to have a device like echo that didn't do its speech processing locally and only went online to get data it didn't have? So if I ask for an alarm in an hour, or to play a song I own, or something else that doesn't require data from the "cloud" the command never leaves the house- and, in fact, all conversations stay private and only the "fetch" is external to the system.

There is an early-stage community-sourced device which does processing offline: mycroft.ai


Except they don't do anything locally. They can't play music from your nas. Only the cloud, which I'd argue even though you may pay for it, you don't own it.

Siri doesn't need to go to the cloud to play songs on my iTunes or set an alarm to wake me up in an hour or dictate a message- that's all on my phone. It only needs to use the cloud for the speech processing. Which is what prompted my comment.

There's no reason a voice-activated app couldn't play music from my network-attached storage if it could parse the commands.

Not as alarming as these auto play videos...

I assumed most adults know better than to take nude selfies to begin with. I was quite surprised Bezos would do this.

Aside from being this being foolish, realize that women don’t want dick pics.

That's the type of shaming attitude required for National Enquirer to think their coercion will work.

A better reaction is, who cares about nudes shared discretely between consenting adults? Leaking them will accomplish nothing.

Agreed, I've never photographed my junk but who cares what other people do, taking pictures for a partner that are titillating is far on the mild scale of what powerful people (and normal people) can get up to its irrelevant.

I'm not a fan of bezos but in this case his response has been spot on.

I don’t think the two are related. I think the Enquirer was banking on him being ashamed of showing his dick pics to the world. If I’m shaming him, it’s for making a dumb decision. Phones get hacked and pics leak, and he should know this.

But let’s look at this for what it is. It isn’t Jeff’s position that he doesn’t care if they are leaked, or that leaking them will accomplish nothing. He very much wants them to stay private and he’s doubling down on legal efforts to try and ensure that outcome. It’s just that his ego is larger than his shame, and he’s damn near biologically incapable of rolling over when another powerful man is attacking him, and that’s his best play given the cards on the table. My take is that having his dick pick posted online would be moderately shameful, but losing to Mr. Pecker, particularly in front of his new love interest, especially when the subject matter being used against him is essentially peacocking for said love interest, would be the ultimate shame.

Make no mistake - these calm, collected responses are purely strategic, and not at all reflective of the full scope of his true demeanor.

It’s the same thing with Thiel taking down Gawker. Whether you think Gawker was in the wrong or not, Thiel wasn’t motivated by charity or righteousness. He simply wanted to bury his enemy and spit on his grave.

> Thiel wasn’t motivated by charity or righteousness. He simply wanted to bury his enemy and spit on his grave.

That said, reading about Gawker conduct over the years, if somebody's grave deserved to be spit on, its theirs. They operated for years under the model "we can do anything we want and you don't have enough money to sue us". Until Thiel did.

>realize that women don’t want dick pics.

This is more a funny generalization to use in a joke about the differences between men and women than it is a true statement. And shaming such tame sexual behavior between consenting adults comes off as prudish.

I think it's a perfectly fine form of flirtation/teasing between adult lovers.

> realize that women don’t want dick pics.

They occasionally do, in my experience. It's really simple: if they ask for one, oblige if you care to. If they don't ask, don't send one. The last six or seven women I've been romantically / sexually intimate with have all asked outright as part of a general back and forth. That's without me ever initiating or pushing that. All pretty normal women as well, none of them were especially kinky or into fringe sexual experimentation; a few were quite shy and still wanted to do it. Anecdotal of course, however I doubt I just happened to meet so many in a row that were interested in that. Rather, I'd bet it's not uncommon with the majority of women under a certain age today (maybe under ~40-45, women that have spent a large part of their adult lives in the selfie era). Especially once you've established enough trust and intimacy. If you're physically apart for any meaningful length of time, that also changes the context. I've done long distance relationships a couple of times and that has always considerably increased the demand for selfies.

Honestly I am amazed that anyone even tangentially related to tech thinks it's a good idea to digitize their genitalia and attach them to their name. Once something is in digital form, the information is 'free'. It's free to multiply and distribute. The odds of it never going away is asymptotic to the popularity of the individual. Bad, bad ideas all around.

I dunno, in this case, it kind of does seem that his mistress wanted dick picks?

And maybe you're different than everyone else, but I suspect a lot (maybe even the majority) of adults have taken nude/semi-nude selfies. Probably more women than men, but still.

I find it very hard to believe that anything close to a majority does this, but I do wonder about that. I mean, for all I know, I could be the only one who hasn’t.

Nothing wrong with a little consensual nude swapping between friends.

"unsolicited" being the operative word that you omitted.

"It's only wrong when its done to me. I am the one who have rights, not the rest of the world, so I'm perfectly justified to keep doing, or helping to do, exactly that to everyone else."

Billionaires think they are untouchable? Give me a break. Did Bloomberg go around interviewing people to find the most absurd quote.

The poorer you are the more untouchable you are. Who's going to blackmail the bum around the corner.

Ah yes Jeff Bezos really has it tough compared to... a homeless person.

Not having empathy for Bezos because he's a billionaire and then mentioning a homeless person is just whatabout-ism. And you can really use whatabout-ism on anything.

There's always going to be someone who has an objectively worse life than someone else, so maybe we shouldn't have sympathy for anyone?

"You got raped? Stop complaining, there's a lot worse stuff happening in Yemen you insensitive clod!"

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