A trove of revealing "selfies" and other images of stars and models have been snatched from Apple's iCloud and posted online in recent weeks in what the tech giant has called a "targeted attack".
Oettinger, Germany's EU Commissioner, was asked about the scandal in a Brussels hearing.
He replied: "If a celebrity is stupid enough to take a nude photo of themselves and put it on the Internet, then they can't expect us to protect them.
"There is a limit to how far you can protect people against their own stupidity," he said on Monday.
News site Spiegel Online said the comment showed that the 60-year-old - who currently holds the energy commissioner's post - "has not understood the affair about hacked celebrity images" and judged that "the new post may be too challenging for him".
It pointed out that the encrypted image files are automatically sent by smartphones into the data "cloud" as a backup, and that the images were stolen by criminals.
Spiegel Online added that Oettinger's comment reflected the notion that "if you use the Internet, you have yourself to blame".
The Hamburger Abendblatt also called the comment a "faux pax" while business daily Handelsblatt said the reply showed that "Oettinger lacked the required technical expertise" on online privacy protection.
The Süddeutsche Zeitung in an earlier article headlined "Oettinger retrains as nerd" asked how the German politician, who had to take English lessons when he came to Brussels, would be able to discuss a technical matter such as "clouds, IP addresses and the future of turbo-vectoring".
Oettinger has previously been ridiculed for his poor English skills when he became Germany's EU Commissioner four years ago.