Sony hacking: the lawsuits begin

April 28, 2011

Sony hacking: the lawsuits beginWhen you reveal that user data of 77 million people has been compromised, you can expect consequences. And for Sony that’s already meant a lawsuit, a stock price fall and some additional interest from regulators.

As we’ve been covering over on our GAMER channel, Sony’s PlayStation Network service for online gaming has been down for more than a week now in what’s turned out to be a response to a hacker gaining access to user account data. At the moment it’s still only hypothetical that the hacker also obtained credit card details, and Sony has confirmed those details at least were encrypted.

Still, like a blog commenter racing to post “First!”, Alabama man Kristopher Johns has filed the first lawsuit over the issue. He says the big problem is the length of time it took Sony to tell people about the breach, which he says left him unable to take protective action such as changing his log-in details on other sites or making an informed decision about whether to cancel a credit card or step up fraud checks.

The suit appeals for class action status, meaning any other people in the same position could join in the case and be covered by a single verdict. It calls for Sony to pay for additional credit monitoring for all those affected.

There have also been several reports of PSN users suffering credit card fraud since the breach. However, it’s far too early to have any real idea if these are a result of the breach, or simply the inevitable cases that you would get at any time among a group of 77 million people.

Meanwhile officials are looking into whether Sony has breached any data regulations. In the United States the attorneys general of Connecticut, Florida, Iowa and Massachusetts are already investigating. In Europe, data breaches aren’t handled by the European Union (which usually covers legal issues involving major firms such as competition concerns) but rather by the regulators of individual nations. Both the British and Irish regulators have already confirmed probes, though Irish officials have already said a fine is unlikely.

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