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Judge in PS3 case lets Sony track visitors to Geohot website

updated 07:05 pm EST, Fri March 4, 2011

Judge lets Sony spy on Geohot visitors in PS3 suit

George Hotz faced another setback in his defense against Sony's anti-jailbreaking lawsuit late Thursday after a judge granted Sony a potentially controversial amount of information access. It now has permission to get the IP addresses, accounts and other details of anyone who has visited either his main Geohot site or his PS3 jailbreak Blogger site between January 2009 and the modern day. Sony made clear that the access wouldn't be limited to those who downloaded the jailbreak code.

The company had already received permission to track as much information as possible about those who had seen a private YouTube video of the jailbreak, including their comments. Sony has also been petitioning the court for permission to see all of Hotz' Twitter updates.

Sony has argued that it needs the complete records to show how Hotz was distributing the hack. It also wanted to prove that some of the traffic came from Northern California so that it could keep the lawsuit in its preferred area instead of being pushed to move it to New Jersey. A hearing on the decision is due in April.

The company has argued that Hotz was actively helping out pirates by posting a jailbreak that would users run their own code on the PS3. Hotz has denied this and noted that his jailbreak code was written in such a way as to prevent casual piracy.

Sony's subpoena requests have already been challenged by the Electronic Frontier Foundation as too wide-ranging. The agency has contended that Sony is making no distinction between actual infringers versus simple observers and may have too much access to private data that has no relation to the case.

The attitude is nonetheless consistent with Sony's scorched earth policy to the jailbreak, where it has threatened lawsuits to anyone posting the code and to silence as much talk about it as possible. It has faced some opposition both from Hotz and from a countersuit over feature limitations, since the same patch to close down piracy also removed popular support for installing Linux. [via Wired]

by MacNN Staff



  1. facebook_Justin

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Mar 2011


    comment title

    As much as I am against Sony locking down the PS3 the way they do, George Hotz has no right to hack it. It's copyrighted software, and if its not a crime, it should be. If people don't like the way Sony works, they shouldn't buy their products. I am happy to see that he is opening up the system, but it should definitely be a crime. People shouldn't be allowed to hack copyrighted software and modify it. It's nonsense like this that leads to viruses being created.

  1. Chud73

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Justin as

    life isn't ever as quite simple as you stated. The fact remains that Sony took away a piece of what made the PS3 wonderful: Listing it as PS3 capable of being a computer when loaded with Linux (for those who used it as such like US Air Force etc) If you would excuse the analogy here, it is like Ford or any other car manufacturers coming back telling you can't modify your truck or car after you bought it and being told you can. Most agree with this: I bought it so that makes it mine, but I did not agree to leasing it from the Company Sony; which has stated in Court in this case and another case.

    It would be one thing if they modified future hardware so where you could not add additional OS's to the system. But they didn't and here is where the battle has lead too. Like yourself, who are for Sony and those who are against like myself are going to have to wait to see what happens in both cases. If I did buy a PS3 before they made the changes to the OS system, then I might be pissed off because every game that comes out after the new firmware 3.21, is a game I CAN'T play. If I don't care to play MPG's online, get on the net, or anything else; I get to keep a system that is now a paper weight not what I bought it for....

    But the point of this article is the legal-illegal boundary that Sony is pushing this. Lets take this to the next level that is very much possible. Sony get's it hand every IP address from those that visited this site. They get court action to find out who owns those address' and then sends court ordered appearances to show up with your computer so they can see if you have the code or if you passed on the code, your contacts etc.... All in the name of protecting the Company. But what if I just was reading about George here on Electronista and clicked on their link to his site to read his blog. All this being before he was ordered by the court to take off the code, but after Sony filed the suit.

    What happens to those like me who are just interested in getting a look at his side of the story? We are now marked people who really don't know what those ramifications are. Those like Electronista and every other "link to" tech sites should be worried over, is are we leading our readers to be investigated by the likes of the Court and Sony's out there? What are our responsibilities to our readers and the court? What are the ramifications when someone walks in front of the Judge and states for having visited a site linked to by some tech news site: Judge, I didn't know I was commenting a crime by visiting a site like GeoHot's, I only was seeing what was going on after being linked to his site by blah blah blah...

    See where this can be very open ended? Where is the beginning and the ending to Sony's power grab at crushing everyone and everything. Personally, I think Sony Company story is going to show as some other company coming and buying it. Other then their TV, Blu-ray, PS3, and Phones...Not much left in their market's anymore. The best they can do is keep at R&D, selling/leasing the fruits of that to other companies and PS3's......That was their last grasp as their PS-Phone will be..

    Read this and you will understand more then I could type:

  1. Arne_Saknussemm

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Thanks for the link.

    The general media has given so much exposure to the Sony side of the story, its good to see another view. It feels unreal a US judge has agreed to pass so much private information to a single company and with so much ease.

    In the US the Department of Homeland Security, wanted Mozilla to censor a plug-in (Mafiafire) that poses no security risk but to big media lobbies. In the EU the current president called up an "e-G8" with censorship ideas catering to the local content giants.

    The funny thing here is that supposedly democratic and citizen respecting governments are behaving in similar manners, albeit for the time being on a smaller scale, as the former Tunisia, and Egyptian state powers.

    Maybe as Justin suggest, the most powerful retaliatory measure informed Netizens can do, is to AVOID all Sony products. Even as Sony, by being granted logs to every visit's to GeoHot's site, is trying hard precisely for users NOT to be informed.

    Good thing is with all the attention unalowed position keeping, and IP tracing, most internet users are becoming acquainted with the technicalities of the internet; and little by little learning how privacy online is just as important as drawing a curtain behind you when at the voting booth.

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