Peter Thiel has reiterated his mission to prevent media outlets like Gawker from releasing personal information in an op-ed published in The New York Times on Monday.
The Silicon Valley billionaire began his piece titled “The Online Privacy Debate Won’t End With Gawker” by comparing the controversial and now-removed Daily Beast article, which used Grindr to bait several closeted gay Olympic athletes, with his own experience being outed by Gawker in 2007.
“I had begun coming out to people I knew, and I planned to continue on my own terms. Instead, Gawker violated my privacy and cashed in on it,” Thiel wrote. “It didn’t feel good, but I knew it could have been much worse. What I experienced would be minor in comparison with the cruelties that could be inflicted by someone willing to exploit the Internet without moral limits.”
Thiel then went on to decry Gawker for “routinely publish[ing] thinly sourced, nasty articles that attacked and mocked people” for monetary reasons and pointed to the Hulk Hogan sex tape as a prime example.
The Silicon Valley billionaire, who helped fund Hogan’s successful lawsuit against Gawker, said that the outlet and its CEO Nick Denton had been influenced by the Hogan case to make the “right decision” by retracting another article which outed the chief financial officer of Condé Nast.
“As for Gawker, whatever good work it did will continue in the future, and suggesting otherwise would be an insult to its writers and to readers,” he wrote. “It is ridiculous to claim that journalism requires indiscriminate access to private people’s sex lives.”
“A free press is vital for public debate. Since sensitive information can sometimes be publicly relevant, exercising judgment is always part of the journalist’s profession,” Thiel continued. “It’s not for me to draw the line, but journalists should condemn those who willfully cross it. The press is too important to let its role be undermined by those who would search for clicks at the cost of the profession’s reputation.”
Thiel concluded the piece by advocating for the Intimate Privacy Protection Act, a bill which would make it illegal to disseminate explicit private images without the consent of those depicted and mandate legal consequences for third parties who profited from those images.
“Protecting individual dignity online is a long-term project, and it will require many delicate judgments. We can begin on solid ground by acknowledging that it is wrong to expose people’s most intimate moments for no good reason,” he wrote. “That is the kind of clear moral line that Gawker and publishers like it have sought to blur. But they can’t do it if we don’t let them.”
Final bids were due for Gawker’s bankruptcy case by the end of business (ET) on Monday.
Read Thiel’s full piece here.