Some bad news this morning for PS3 hacker George Hotz supporters and privacy advocates in general–it looks like Sony’s been granted permission to go after Hotz’s PayPal records after all.
Hotz, as most of you know, cracked and posted the PS3’s root key a few months ago. He’s the center point in Sony’s legal maelstrom, aimed both at him and others who aided in dismantling the PS3’s security algorithms.
California-based Federal Magistrate Joseph Spero apparently agreed with Sony’s request for a deeper-dive on Hotz’s financial activity, green-lighting the subpoena for his PayPal records, though specifying the information was limited to attorney viewing only (because, you know, attorneys would never look at that other unrelated stuff, or use it to cook up ways to harass someone indirectly).
The subpoena’s just the latest development in a jurisdictional kerfuffle over whether Hotz can be sued in California, where Sony alleges a preponderance of the hack’s downloads from Hotz’s homepage occurred. Hotz currently resides in New Jersey, and has said the only reason he hacked the PS3 was to restore functionality Sony stripped from it–namely the ‘Other OS’ feature that allowed users to install operating systems like Linux. Some PS3 owners have pilloried Sony for stripping what it once touted as a selling point for the system, and for arguably violating a tacit buyer-seller obligation not to remove features paid for.
You’d be more than annoyed if the furniture dealer you bought a new couch from suddenly showed up and took back the cushions, or just hacked off an armrest, wouldn’t you?
Sony doesn’t see it that way, and simple as it sounds in principle, you know the law isn’t–even when it’s already okayed iPhone jailbreaking.
And don’t read any of this as Sony saber-rattling. The company secured an earlier subpoena to grab the IP addresses of anyone who accessed Hotz’s site from January 2009 forward, and it’s also reportedly banning hack-curious users from its PlayStation Network for life.