Access To Geohot’s Visitor Details Granted

According to Wired, Sony has won the right to access the IP addresses of every visitor to Geohot’s website.  And not just recently – from as far back as January of 2009.

As part of the ongoing legal battle between the manufacturer and Mr Hotz, the decision by Magistrate Joseph Spero raises, as Wired says, a number of issues regarding web-privacy concerns.

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The approved subpoena requires the hosts, Bluehost, to hand over “documents reproducing all server logs, IP address logs, account information, account access records and application or registration forms” for, the company claims, two reasons.

The first is to prove the “defendant’s distribution” of the so-called PS3 Jailbreak hack.  The other is a jurisdictional issue and involves the decision over whether Sony must sue Hotz in his home state of New Jersey rather than San Francisco.

Sony also won subpoenas for information from other sites, including Twitter, YouTube and Google.

Source: wired.com.

Update: some of the data will be ‘Attorney’s Eyes Only’.  “As a result of this meet and confer, the parties narrowed the scope of several of the subpoenas and agreed to provide for protection of confidential information obtained through some of the subpoenas through an Attorneys Eyes Only designation.”

To be clear: the information gathered will be for Sony’s attorneys, and – as far as we can see – only be used to determine how many people visited the site and downloaded the hack to established whether the trial could be held in California.

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49 Comments

  1. Hmmm, interesting…

  2. lets hope they dont try something akin to the torrenter hunting business that recently went bust where they acuse everyone whether theyre guilty or not.On the bright side heres hoping it scares a few hackers into coming back to the legal non hacked side of things.

  3. As long as the little prick doesn’t release a hip hop parody about this turn of events I’ll be happy.

    • i’d pay cash monies for a bootleg of that album.

      • Sony should buy him out and turn him into the latest top 40 sensation so he can make them lots and lots of license fees, everybody wins :D

  4. Sony now have the IP address of the whole gaming press/media community then?

    Them winning the right to info from Google, Twitter & YouTube seems overly-draconian, but nothing surprises me about Sony on that front. As I’ve said the precedents being set as this case plays out, will have massive & far-reaching effects on individuals forever, whether you’re up to no good or not.

    • Indeed. This is starting to look really nasty.

    • There’s still something I don’t get about the IP address thing.

      Okay, so Sony are doing this to prove that someone in California has visited Geohot’s site, then California would have jurisdictional power. This is so they can appeal the decision that stated that California doesn’t have jurisdiction in the case. However, the judge made that decision because if he had granted jurisdiction, then California would have jurisdiction over anyone who uses Paypal, surely, this is just another overly broad way of linking California to the case.

      Especially, when as you say, this has been such big news that there is no way that they can prove that the people visiting did so in the interest of piracy. It’s just very confusing. I mean, why doesn’t Sony just sue Geohot in New Jersey? Is California the DMCA equivalent of Marshall in Texas for patent trolls?

      • What if Jeff from California visited Geohot’s site and grabbed the zip never owned a PS3, or never intended to. How would him being in California prove anything beyond his IP being geolocated to that particular state?

      • It would also be nearly impossible to prove that anyone visited that site did so for piracy reasons. Surely most of the media reporting on the whole thing did so for journalistic reasons, for example.

      • Doesnt matter if ‘jeff’ didnt own a PS3, Sont are arguing Geohot is distruting copywrighted code. if someons downlaoded, that’s all that’s needed. They’re not proving smeone downloaded and used it to hack a ps3.

      • I don’t think he was distributing copyrighted code, if he’s at all intelligent he’ll have been distributing patches*. Though you’re still kinda right, under the DMCA it’s illegal to distribute circumvention devices, which Sony are arguing, he was (even though in my mind, a device is hardware).

        *: Not the PS3 kind of patch, the proper kind. I’m talking diff-ing the end result of his hacks and releasing that as a patch.

      • Scare tactics maybe? Now everyone that downloaded anything goes “OMG sony knows who I am, I better delete everything”

    • One of the websites I’ve visited to write a few of the articles (or just to keep abreast of things to see what’s worth writing up without going into a running commentary on piracy) is also being forced to hand-over its logs and and all the details of its members.

      With regards to my “the precedents being set as this case plays out, will have massive & far-reaching effects on individuals forever, whether you’re up to no good or not” comment:

      Geohot has obviously been forced to hand over his computers & their drives etc to a third party company who will be doing the analysing on Sony’s behalf – fair enough, probably.

      But since then Sony has applied for more & more things to be done with them & the data (according to the site I’ve visited) – so who’s to say what Sony will end up wanting to do with any data they receive, if their primary course of actions are only the thin end of the wedge

      anyway, its not Sony I’m worried about, for me its more about megacorps dictating to other megacorps to hand over private data and that data could be used for means other than was originally intended. The precedent from this case are massive, far outweighing a business protecting their interest (which in this case we all support) but the ruling will have unintended consequences at some point in the future.

      *makes tin-foil hat*

      • It does make me wonder whether there would have been such furore had he not jumped on the web to brag about his “victory”.

  5. This is about to get messy. Sony seem dead set on making an example out of geohot.

  6. I’ve mostly been staying away from these posts but this news is somewhat distressing.

    What about just interest P.O.V.’s? Will Sony have a watchlist or something? This post should’ve been in comment to cc because the vast majority of what he says is pure human sense.

    • The fact that the judge agreed to this is, at the moment, confusing me. Will read more about it.

      • Someone mentioned on Slashdot that this judge is rather new and has happened to side with large corporations a rather large amount since becoming one…

        I know, tin foil hat time.

      • I have been through some legal discovery in the past. In my experience the judges decisions are based on fairly broad statements like “access to all hard drives, computers, and network that were used by…” Most judges don’t understand how broad and vague statements like that can be. The lawyers spend lots of time arguing about the spirit of of the judges order.

    • Something defiantly seems wrong about this whole access to IP’s. Especially when legality has yet to be proven or dis-proven.

      The again, is it wrong for the TV Licence authorities to be able to find out what service you are watching if you don’t have a licence.

      • Yes. You are still innocent until proven guilty. If they suspect you of watching BBC they must tell you of any investigation.You have rights under the data protection act.

      • @Kitch, are you saying, if you dont watch BBC then you dont need a licence, or they dont know, or what?

  7. I don’t agree with GeoHotz, but I don’t agree with this either :/

  8. Phew! Not long changed ISP’s so I’m in the clear.

    • You’re not in the clear by changing ISP as they will still hold your records and would be required to give them over to Sony if they needed them. As far as I can see though the rights to Sony having the IP addresses is not about going after users. The article clearly states this. It’s about proving the distribution of the hack and where Sony must sue Hotz.

      • Thanks for clearing that up. I don’t think Sony would have been interested in my other online interests. Most of which bunimomike sent me to, that’s my defence your Honour.

      • Hahaha! You have no idea how true that is. I have friends who “blame” me if they’re caught with porn on their computers. I don’t mind either. I’m a scapegoat!

        *hides scapegoat porn*

  9. I agree with Root Ginger. While it sounds properly sketchy on the surface, Sony aren’t out to find who’s been visiting the site. They’re out to prove that GeoHot has been distributing his software, therefore I see no issue with the judge granting it. And with the Attorney’s Eyes Only stipulation, nobody that has visited the site has anything to worry about. As far as I know downloading GeoHot’s software isn’t illegal. Downloading and running pirated games is.

  10. Surely this is everybody with a passing interest in gaming who heard of these hacks?

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