Class Action Suit Against Sony Mortally Wounded
After last year’s hilariously bungled handling of the Playstation 3 hack, it should shock anyone that Sony was slapped with a class action lawsuit. That suit, filed in January, advanced claims that the company was negligent, not only in protecting customer data but in how the handled such a massive breach. The suit specifically claimed that Sony was aware, or should have been, of potential vulnerabilities, and failed to do anything that could prevent them from being exploited. That ‘should have been’ part might have been a hint of the grounds on which the case is based, because unfortunately for those of you hoping to see Sony humbled, a crippling blow was dealt to the case this week by U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia.
Judge Battaglia dismissed several claims, among them negligence, and bailment and violations of California consumer protection statutes. Further, he said, Sony didn’t misrepresent security on its services, because the PSN EULA contains “clear admonitory language that Sony’s security was not ‘perfect,’” therefore “no reasonable consumer could have been deceived.” Worse for the plaintiffs, he said that “none of the named plaintiffs subscribed to premium PSN services, and thus received the PSN services free of cost,” making them ineligible to claim any compensation that might hypothetically be due other users.
Most importantly, the judge noted that “plaintiffs freely admit, plaintiffs’ personal information was stolen as a result of a criminal intrusion of Sony’s Network. Plaintiffs do not allege that Sony was in any way involved with the Data Breach.” This seems a pretty clear demolition of the class action suit; plaintiffs were given the option to an amended claim, but as the bulk of their allegations have been dismissed, it’s likely this puts an end to Sony’s legal headache. This one, anyway.
This isn’t to suggest that Sony didn’t behave in the most obtuse, obfuscatory, disingenuous manner possible during the breach, notably failing to admit the problem for weeks. But all-but-lying to their customers about a problem after it happened doesn’t make them complicit in the problem itself. And I kind of hate myself for having to write that. Hopefully, some of the actions taken on a state to state basis in the aftermath will end up having teeth.