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Noah Feldman

Is Hacking Sony Free Speech?

In this case, secure may not mean protected.

In this case, secure may not mean protected.

Photographer: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

Was 2014 the year of the hack? Or 2013? Or maybe 2011? The answer, of course, is that they all were, and that there are going to be lots more coming. But events in 2014 have helped frame a profound question that we’re going to have to answer about the right balance among property, privacy and free speech – and a glance through the year’s prominent hacks sheds some light on how we should answer it.

Let's work backward. The latest major hacking scandal involves someone’s theft and exposure of internal Sony documents ranging from embarrassing e-mail exchanges to script proposals. (The principle of cui bono, who benefits, would point to North Korean government hackers angered by the forthcoming film, “The Interview,” but we have no public confirmation of that origin.)