George Clooney’s wedding to human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin was the celebrity story of the weekend. Their no-expense-spared nuptials in Venice were the very image of a dream wedding, but what many people don’t know is the careful planning that went into keeping their wedding safe from hackers and tabloid journalists.
It has been reported that Clooney gave every guest at his wedding a “burner” phone. A burner phone has a single purpose, and is intended to be discarded after use. These phones came with special codes that served as both a ticket into the wedding events, as well as a deterrent for guests wishing to leak photos.
The Sunday Telegraph claims to have obtained part of the document sent to Clooney’s wedding guests, which instructs them on the smartphone security protocols:
The phones you’ve been given have a code. That is your ticket to everything. We will be taking lots of pictures…but we have to work very hard to keep our pictures our pictures.
Additionally, TMZ reports that guests were banned from bringing their own phones to the festivities, instead they had to leave them in their hotel rooms or hand them in at special kiosks outside the events.
So why the high security? Apparently Clooney was protecting against two things: iCloud hackers and leaked photos.
According to TMZ, “guests were all told the reason for the security measures was because of all the hackers who have been in the news recently.”
The hackers behind the recent leaked celebrity photos used vulnerabilities in Apple’s password recovery system to gain access to iCloud accounts. If guests at Clooney’s wedding used their personal iPhones to photograph the event, then there’s a chance that hackers who already had access to the phones could gain valuable photos before the press.
American Vogue has exclusive rights to photograph of Clooney’s wedding, in return for a donation to a charity of his choice. The burner phones meant that wedding guests couldn’t sell on photos to rival publications, as the code system means that Clooney would be able to tell exactly who each photograph came from.
It’s not unusual for guests attending celebrity parties to have their social media use restricted. In 2013, TMZ obtained a copy of one of Justin Bieber’s “party contracts” that guests have to sign before even meeting the star. The document made it clear that publishing any details or photos of the party could result in a $US3 million fine.
I shall not, without your prior written consent in each instance, publish, directly or indirectly, or cause or induce the publication to a third party, of any Confidential Information including, without limitation, texting, “tweeting,” giving any interviews, making statements to the press, or writing, preparing or assisting in the preparation of any books, articles, programs, press releases, or any other oral or written communications.