Stars like Emma Watson and Amanda Seyfried launched legal action Wednesday after personal pictures were stolen and posted online. Mischa Barton also recently spoke of her anguish over a leaked sex tape. The photographs of the 26-year-old actress merely show her trying on outfits but the images of Amanda and Mischa show them in a series of compromising poses. Ms Watson's publicist said her stolen pictures were taken during a fitting she had with a stylist "a couple of years ago," without offering further details about the circumstances of the shoot or how the images had ended up in the wrong hands.
"They are not nude photographs. Lawyers have been instructed and we are not commenting further," he told AFP.
Media reports said the pictures had been shared on the so-called "dark web" - an encrypted part of the internet not easily accessible by users lacking specialist knowledge.
Later on Wednesday, Amanda Seyfried's legal team said it is pursuing a website that had posted her nude photos including images of "intimate moments" with her ex-boyfriend, reported TMZ.
TMZ also shared what it described as a threatening letter from the actress' lawyer to website, demanding it immediately take down the images.
It was not immediately clear if the pictures, which remained available on the site early afternoon Los Angeles time, were obtained in an attack linked to the incident with Ms Watson.
Meanwhile, Mischa, speaking at a news conference on the outskirts of Los Angeles, said she was taking action to stop the potential sale of a sex tape made against her will in a so-called "revenge porn" case.
Mischa told reporters she had obtained a restraining order, and that cease-and-desist letters had been sent to those believed to be trying to buy or sell the images.
- Worst fears realized -
"I just want to say that I have been put through an incredibly hard and trying time," said the 31-year-old actress best known for her role on the Fox series The OC.
Reading from a prepared statement, she said her worst fears were realized when she learned that someone she had loved and trusted had been filming her "most intimate and private moments" with hidden cameras.
"I came forward to fight this, not only for myself but for all the women out there," she said. "I want to protect them from the pain and humiliation that I have had to go through."
Mischa's lawyer, Lisa Bloom, said someone the actress had once dated was offering the tape for $500,000, adding that buyers could be prosecuted.
The images were recorded during the last year, she said, refusing to identify the culprit, citing an ongoing police investigation.
The theft comes amid a spate of cases in which female celebrities had personal images leaked online, sometimes with intentions of blackmailing.
Ms Watson, who stars in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, due to hit US theatres on Friday, was threatened on the controversial 4Chan message board in 2014 with a leak of nude images after she had delivered a speech about gender equality. That threat turned out to be a hoax.
Last month, a 29-year-old Chicago man was jailed for nine months for hacking into the electronic accounts of celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence on Apple's iCloud service, and stealing private information like nude videos and photos.
Dozens of celeb photos were posted online as part of the 2014 phishing exercise, including shots of Rihanna, Kate Upton and Kirsten Dunst. Apple admitted a "targeted attack," but denied its cloud storage system had been breached.
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