PlayStation Network Users Asked to Give Up Lawsuit Rights

Dennis Faas's picture

Sony is attempting to get gamers to give up their rights to file lawsuits against the company over the breach of its PlayStation Network (PSN) which took place earlier this year.

A new update to the PSN terms and conditions says that a user agrees that any dispute with Sony must be taken to a neutral arbitrator rather than going to the courts. This includes not only disputes about the terms and conditions themselves, but also any alleged breaches of the law. (Source:

It's likely many users will simply click to agree the new rules without reading them. Those that do agree are being given 30 days to change their mind, though this must be done by a mailed letter rather than email.

Sony Class Action Cases at Heart of Dispute

The move appears to be aimed at blocking users from starting or joining a class action lawsuit.

A class action lawsuit is where a court takes a case with one specific plaintiff and agrees that anyone under the same circumstances can join the same case without additional cost and be entitled to any compensation on the same basis if the case is won. That can prove hugely expensive for companies that could otherwise fight each case individually.

There have been several lawsuits seeking class action status as a result of the hacking of Playstation Network in April that not only forced the service offline for several weeks, but prompted Sony to admit that personal details (including credit card numbers) may have been stolen by hackers.

The disruption led the company to give away a package of free games to all users, as well as offering identity theft protection insurance to US users.

Legality of New Agreement Unclear

There's some debate about the legality of Sony's new terms and conditions.

One complaint is that consumers considered online access to be part of the deal when they bought their consoles, meaning they have the right to reject new rules and still keep using the PlayStation Network.

Another concern is that if users are able to agree to the new rules simply by clicking a button, they should be able to reverse this acceptance in the same way. And it's far from clear to what extent consumers can give up legal rights at all, particularly in cases where Sony is negligent. (Source:

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