Judge Accepts Sony’s Request To Identify Visitors To Geohot’s Sites and YouTube Channel

In news that could have far-reaching consequences, a Judge has granted Sony’s request for information that could identify anyone that has visited the web sites belonging to hacker George ‘Geohot’ Hotz.

You’ll probably remember the news that Sony is suing Hotz for his part in the hacking (jailbreaking) of its PlayStation 3 console, and the Japanese giant has even managed to seize the hacker’s computer hard drives. Now Judge Joseph Spero has granted Sony’s request for identifying information for anyone that has visited the sites owned by Hotz. Along with the site’s hosts, YouTube, Twitter and Google are also targets for information requests.

It’s the subpoena of the web site hosts, Bluehost that leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. As CrunchGear writes, Sony claims the requests are ‘narrowly tailored’, though looking through the information requested we find that a little hard to swallow.

Sony contends that the subpoenas are “narrowly tailored for jurisdictional discovery.” Yet their subpoena for Bluehost, GeoHot’s host, requires “all server logs, IP address logs, account information, account access records and application or registration forms” and “any other identifying information corresponding to persons or computers who have accessed or downloaded files hosted using your service and associated with the www.geohot.com website, including but not limited to the geohot.com/jailbreak.zip file.” Essentially, everyone who visited GeoHot’s site (or his blog at Blogspot) is subject to involvement in this case.

But Bluehost aren’t the only ones Sony are going after. YouTube will also be asked to reveal the identity of anyone who has watched videos showing how to jailbreak a PS3 – scary stuff.

Unsurprisingly, the EFF has joined in the fuss, writing a letter to the Magistrate with wording such as “the discovery seeks information about non-parties and… the relationship to the narrow jurisdictional question at issue [i.e. where the case should be tried] seem tenuous at best”.

The issue of where the case should be tried refers to Sony’s request for proceedings to be heard in San Francisco. The reason for this is it’s the home of YouTube, Google and Twitter and is close to Sony’s headquarters.

As we’ve said before, this is one case that is sure to rumble on and on, but at this rate, we’re all going to get dragged into it for having the audacity to watch a YouTube video or following the wrong person on Twitter.


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