Google has removed “tens of thousands” of nude pictures stolen from celebrities and published online.
A statement from the web giant said it has deleted photos “within hours” of requests being made and has “closed hundreds of accounts.”
It comes after reports Hollywood entertainment lawyer Marty Singer has threatened to sue Google for “violating privacy”.
The New York Post published a letter addressed to senior staff at Google. The letter states that Google failed “to act expeditiously, and responsibly to remove the images” and “was perpetuating the despicable conduct of these habitual pervert predators”.
Cara Delevingne and Jennifer Lawrence were among the group of stars targeted by cyber thieves who posted their stolen pictures on sites including 4Chan.
Although the women involved in the potential lawsuit have not been named, the legal papers stated: “We are litigation counsel for over a dozen celebrities.” In his letter, Marty Singer said, the female stars would seek damages for Google’s “blatantly unethical behaviour” and “knowingly accommodating, facilitating, and perpetuating the unlawful conduct” of the hackers.
The high profile lawyer added: “Google knows the images are hacked stolen property, private and confidential photos and videos unlawfully obtained and posted by pervert predators who are violating the victims’ privacy rights”.
In response, Google said: “Our turnaround is generally hours, not weeks.
“Of course people continue to post these images on the web, so – like other online services – we rely on people notifying us to help us take them down, whether by flagging content, or filing DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) requests.”
Other celebs to be targeted by cyber thieves are Kate Upton, Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and horror star Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
Pitch Perfect actress Anna Kendrick has also reportedly had photos of herself fully-clothed published on Reddit and 4Chan.
According to Mr Singer’s legal document, some of the photos have also turned up on YouTube and Blogspot, owned by Google.
Google said: “We’re removing these photos for community guidelines and policy violations (eg nudity and privacy violation) on YouTube, Blogger and Google+.
“For search we have historically taken a different approach as we reflect what’s online – but we remove these images when we receive valid copyright (DMCA) notices.”