PlayStation class action accuses Sony of knowing customers' data was at risk

By Michelle Keahey | Aug 11, 2011

A class action against Sony over a data breach of its PlayStation Network accuses the company of knowing its customers' data and personal information was at risk for theft and the company did nothing to protect it, including failing to put up a firewall.

Demario J. Griffin and Christopher D. Becnel, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, filed the lawsuit against Sony Corp. of America Inc., Sony Corp. Entertainment of America LLC, Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. and Sony Network Entertainment International LLC on Aug. 5 in federal court in New Orleans.

The data breach occurred on April 16, and allegedly affected 77 million user accounts, the suit claims. The alleged stolen data includes customer names, mailing addresses, email addresses, birth dates, credit card numbers, expiration dates, online network passwords, login credentials and other personal information.

The plaintiffs' lawyers, which includes Daniel Becnel, Jr., accuse Sony of knowing that it had inadequate security measures in place to protect its customers' personal information.

It is not clear what his relationship is to a lead plaintiff in the case.

Sony is accused of not installing a firewall on the PlayStation and SPE Networks, unless a particular user attempted to gain unauthorized access, the lawsuit states.

Further, Sony is accused of delaying the disclosure of the security breach until April 26, at least four days after it became aware of the massive breach. The plaintiffs argue that this prevented customers from taking prompt steps to secure their personal information to prevent identity theft and other financial crimes.

The lawsuit alleges the security breach is tied to a 2010 lawsuit Sony initiated against a teenage gamer for copyright infringement. George Hotz, at the age of 19, successfully modified his PlayStation 3 to allow him to use it with other operating systems. After he publically disclosed what he did, Sony sued him. In response to the copyright lawsuit, a hacker referred to as "Anonymous" publicly stated that it planned to attack the
PlayStation Network and, within two weeks, the massive data breach occurred.

The proposed class action will include all U.S. persons who were active subscribers to the PlayStation Network or Qriocity service on April 16-17, 2011, or SPE's Network on or about June 3, 2011.

Sony is accused of violating the Federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act, negligence breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty.

The plaintiffs are asking the Court for an Order stopping the defendants from further fraudulent business practices, for an award of damages in the amount of money they paid for their PlayStation equipment and network, restitution, credit monitoring service, exemplary damages, interest and attorney's fees.

The plaintiffs are also represented by Matthew B. Moreland and Jennifer L. Crose of Becnel Law Firm in Reserve. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:11-cv-01885

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