Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sony: Make Believe (that it's a Brave New World): April Update

EDIT: It has been 3 months since I published this post about the controversy between Sony, hacker George Hotz, and the jailbreaking of the Playstation 3.  A lot has happened since then, and I have made edits to the end of the post.

Playstation 3: It only does search and seizure

A 21 year old man named George Hotz, who also is known by his alias GeoHot and is famous for jailbreaking the Iphone, has recently caused controversy in the world of video gaming, the gaming industry and the whole world dependent on social media.  Earlier this year, he hacked the Sony's PlayStation 3 and released the master keycode to the public.  This master key lets anyone install third party files and operating systems on their PS3 and it will accept them as legitimate files (for example: pirated games that wouldn't be accepted without the code).  Sony is freaking out because this means people can now illegally play pirated games and there is nothing they can do about it.  The discussion of whether or not a pirated game equals a lost sale is another debate and I won't go into that now.

Edit on February 12th at 10:11 PM:  Geohot literally just posted this video moments ago on youtube as a protest to Sony. I found it through the twitter hashtag search of #Geohot: This is an example of how viral social media really is (please note that there is some swearing in the video).

This video pretty much sums up the themes of the whole situation in seconds.  The rights of the public being overshadowed by a higher power; corporations who are trying to take away our freedom (to benefit their profit). "I'm a personification of freedom for all."

Below is the master code that the fictional character Kevin Butler for Sony marketing (the funny man from the first video) was tricked into retweeting, which he thought was a battleship sequence.  It was deleted from Twitter as soon as the mistake was realized.  Edit: Note that GeoHot didn't post this tweet.  This random tweeter named Exiva says afterwards that he doesn't even own a Playstation 3.

(Image Redacted.  Host has removed the image of the master key code on Twitter.)

I would expect that Sony would be disappointed with the whole situation.  The PlayStation 3 was the only gaming platform that wasn't hacked.  They have the right to take some action for what has happened.  However, Sony have taken things WAY too far.  Since the key was released, Sony has issued a warrant request to search GeoHot's computer.  Then they asked Federal Courts to search the IP's of everyone who looked up the code on google or watched a youtube video describing the hack. They also hoped to search private Google searches, Twitter accounts, and Youtube viewing histories.  Sony has gone over the top, making it seem like they are Big Brother in 1984.

Sony actually had the nerve to ask if they could spy on the American public.  This is one of the risks of social media like Google and Youtube.  We have our IP's that will link us to anything we browse on the internet.  Just think...What if the Feds granted Sony their search warrant?  Imagine all that power a single corporation would have.  Thankfully their request for IP searching was denied by the courts, however the courts did issue a warrant for Sony to search GeoHot's computer. Sony now has some of the power that Federal law enforcement has.  How terrifying is that?

This is so recent that Sony hasn't even has the chance to search his computers yet.  If Sony wins this battle, how far will social media be taken to be used against us?  Will corporations have control of the internet and all of our private information on it?  When will mega corporations like Sony actually be allowed to search our computers?  Has it already happened behind our backs?


April Edit: So over 3 months have passed and a lot has happened with the situation.  5 days after my blog post, he created his own blog.  He started asking for donations from the public to support him and his legal battles against the big Corporation that Sony is.  The donations were to cover his legal defense costs only.  He stated this on his blog, and word of mouth on forums all over the internet helped raise enough money to fight Sony.  He even shut off any donations after a certain point.
On his blog, he protests Sony's actions, and raises his voice about the legal system, the business of corporations, music pirating and game pirating, and really brings up some interesting topics that are relevant to society.  He uses social media to speak about a hacker in Germany who's home was invade by police.  Hotz claims to to be a scapegoat for Sony's business and war against piracy.  

George Hotz believes in freedom of media and technology, and you most certainly call him an activist after his troubles with Sony.  He has been supported by the word of mouth on the internet and his personal blog that addresses controversial issues he deals with.  

At the beginning of March, Sony was granted access to the IP's of those who visited George Hotz's website with the Master Key Code.  We lost our freedom to the Corporations, and Sony won.  Its a shame that our privacy was given up for the sake of a company's greed.  In their rage, they have taken over our freedoms as individuals and showed the legal system who really controls the content online.  It's funny that information from YOUtube is being controlled by a greedy corporation.

In late March, Rumors were spreading that he fled the country with the donation money and simply ran away from his legal problems.  People were disappointed, outraged, and confused.  He addresses the issue in his blog, saying that he was on a vacation planned since November.  He stated that none of the donation money was being used towards the trip.

Sony and Hotz settled out of court in April, ending the legal situation between the two.  GeoHot donated the remaining money to charity, which was $10,000 and thanked his supporters for their devotion.  Sony won in the short run, but what will people think of them after this?  I hope people will realize what kind of corporation they are, what they care about.  Perhaps they have lost in the long run, because people will think less of them now.  Perhaps they have won in the long run, because now they have showed everyone who is really in control of the internet.  We shall see in the coming months and years.

By the way, The Playstation Network has been down for about 5 days now due to hackers.


  1. I had heard about some sort of code for the PS3 being released but I had no idea how big of a deal it was. Its really very alarming that Sony is allowed to search this guys computer. I definitely think they have the right and probably should take legal action against him. However I'm not sure the company itself should be allowed to search a person's computer.

  2. But hold on a second, shouldn't corporate interests and the thousands (if not millions of dollars) in privately funded research be respected, at least legally?

    While I agree that Sony is acting irrationally when confronted with social media and the 'power of the interent', they do have a right to their own products and should be able to ask for or enforce rules against those who commit crime.

  3. This is a very controversial subject. Yes, there are millions of dollars worth of sales at stake for Sony. However, George Hotz legally bought a PS3 and it's his own private property. He should be able to do what he wants with it.

    I've always had a problem with corporations and in this case I encourage that we side with GeoHot; who represents the average citizen like you and me. Sony is not a person, it is a corporation, and it shouldn't be given this power in a world learning to depend on social media. Where do we draw the line?

    This is more than just an argument between George Hotz and Sony. Its a conflict between corporations and the rights of the American public.

  4. The argument is corporation profit vs basic human rights. Its obvious who we should be supporting. #FreeGeohot

  5. Completely agreed, Cry cry away Sony, the codes out now, and theres not a damn thing you can do about it, give it up, change your code and move the fuck on along..

  6. Freedom of speech! This reminds me of when the hack for DVDs was banned to the point where it couldn't be printed on t-shirts even

  7. I saw a screencap of that tweet somewhere else and a very brief and uninformative description of it, but I had no idea what it really meant. That kid is incredibly smart (and a decent rapper to boot!).

    Will I'm all for profit and capitalism, I have to side with GeoHot. I'd think the worst they would get him on in court is a tort and his penalty hopefully won't be too bad. As for searching his computer that is insane...