I’m no lawyer, but this seems a bit frightening. As the story goes, a well-known hacker named George Hotz—also known as GeoHot—figured out how to “jailbreak” Sony’s PlayStation 3 video game console. The trick essentially lets PS3 owners load alternative operating systems or run games that haven’t been sanctioned by Sony on their consoles. This includes pirated games.
Hotz made this jailbreaking software available for download on his personal website, and Sony brought legal action against him. However, Sony has also recently been granted the legal ability to collect the IP addresses of anybody who’s visited Hotz’s website since 2009.
“Bluehost maintains Hotz’s geohot.com site. The approved subpoena requires the company to turn over ‘documents reproducing all server logs, IP address logs, account information, account access records and application or registration forms’ tied to Hotz’s hosting. The Bluehost subpoena also demands ‘any other identifying information corresponding to persons or computers who have accessed or downloaded files hosted using your service and associated’ with the http://www.geohot.com website, including but not limited to the ‘geohot.com/jailbreak.zip file.’”
So even if you merely visited Hotz’ site between 2009 and present day, Sony can apparently get access to your IP address. I’ve visited the site since then for sure, as have plenty of other tech writers.
The same judge granted subpoenas to Hotz’s Blogger.com account, Twitter account and YouTube account. The YouTube account contains a video called “Jailbroken PS3 3.55 with Homebrew,” and Sony has managed to convince the judge to grant the company access to the IP addresses of anyone who watched the video or posted comments on the video.
The YouTube subpoena “demands data to identify who watched the video and ‘documents reproducing all records or usernames and IP addresses that have posted or published comments in response to the video,’” says Wired.
Now might be a good time to grab some popcorn, pull up the old ottoman, and watch the backlash unfold.
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