"Sony changes network terms to prevent future class actions
Sony Corp is facing another tricky PR challenge as tech blogs and news sites around the world note a change to the terms of service attached to the electronic and entertainment giant's PlayStation Network and Sony Entertainment Network, the latter the new name for the recently rebranded Qriocity service.
State-of-the-art Play Station in the analogue era ...
Under the new terms, users must commit to not participate in any class action lawsuits regarding any future security breaches on the Sony network. As users have to accept the new terms in order to log on to the Sony system, and given that many will do so without even reading the new conditions, some have criticised the change [Some courts have held that terms which no-one can be reasonably expected to read don't form part of the contract: see eg McCutcheon v MacBrayne]. Though given that one class action lawsuit launched in the US earlier this year, after that very high profile data spill on the Sony network, could cost the firm billions, some bad press now to reduce the impact of future action is probably worth it [Is there any suggestion that the bad press might affect goodwill in the Sony brand and the popularity of its products? Merpel doubts it].
Under the new terms, if users felt they had suffered damage due to a future security lapse on the Sony network, they would have to pursue their own individual case against the electronics firm - initially via a Sony selected arbitrator - rather than relying on others to launch a so called class action suit where they too could win compensation if the litigation is successful, even though they are not directly participating in the legal case. The new terms will mainly affect users in America, where class actions are most common, though similar collective action systems do exist in some other jurisdictions, including some in mainland Europe.
Users can actually opt out of the new anti-collective-action term, though to do so they must send a letter (not an email) to Sony Entertainment's LA headquarters. And critics say that most users won't be bothered to that, or even get as far as reading the small print in the new user agreement that details the opt out option.
According to the BBC, a class action lawsuit filed against Sony in the US in April relating to the big data spill could cost the firm billions, despite the company having already offered compensation packages to the 100 million plus users worldwide whose personal information was leaked during one of several hacking attacks on the company's servers [Here's an advantage of facing a class action, surely: a one-size-fits-every-class-member compensation payment, instead of bespoke loss-related awards?]. The most severe attack ... led to the PlayStation Network being offline for 40 days. At the time Sony was criticised for how long it took to admit that so much personal data had been leaked".
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