And so Sony’s crusade against Playstation 3 hacker George “Geohot” Hotz continues. After Sony getting all of Geohot’s computers and access to server logs and personal details from many of his websites and social media accounts, Sony has now been given access to Geohot’s PayPal account, and all information within it – including of the people he has had financial dealings with.
All this is not even part of the actual lawsuit; in fact, this is about Sony wanting to prove that Geohot can be sued in the state of California, instead of Geohot’s home state of New Jersey. Sony gets to vet through all of the PayPal data between January 1, 2009, and February 1, 2011, to see if anyone from California ever donated any money to Geohot.
This means Sony will have access to financial and personal details of anyone who has ever dealt with Geohot over the past two years. To call this roasting a marshmallow with a jet engine exhaust would be an understatement. Why is Sony so adamant about wanting this case to take place in California in the first place?
At first, I thought it was just to make it harder for Hotz to defend himself – the constant travelling would be a huge financial burden for the hacker. However, the free passes this magistrate has been handing out to Sony gives a lot of credence to the “bought the judge”-theory. A reader over at Ars Technica worded my feelings about this pretty well:
“This judge seems to have total disregard for protecting Hotz, who’s already at a significant disadvantage due to being sued by a huge corporation, and goes above and beyond the letter of the law to give Sony yet MORE advantages,” notes Ars reader Maestro4k, “This is not how the justice system is supposed to work. It’s disgusting to see it happening.”
Of course, this entire case is fishy. Geohotz’ role in the entire hacking of the Playstation 3 has not really been ‘evil’ in any way. He sought to enable homebrew development and Playstation 2 emulation on Playstations 3s that came without this feature, and later on, when Sony removed OtherOS, he wanted to reimplement that feature. He never enabled others to cheat, he never enabled piracy.
This is what gets me. If someone with a license buys a gun in the US, and then goes on to shoot up his school, is the gun shop liable? If someone buys an axe at the hardware store and goes on a brutal killing spree, is the hardware store liable? If Hotz enables benign features, and someone else runs with his work to enable cheating and piracy, is Hotz liable?
I honestly and truly believe that in any other (European) country, Sony wouldn’t have had a leg to stand on. The amount of disregard for privacy as well as the total lack of fairness, displayed by magistrate Joseph Spero is mind-boggling. I don’t know if something like “wraking” exists in the US justice system (a process whereby a second set of judges examines the objectivity of the judges currently handling the case), but I were Geohot’s defence, I’d look into it.