When Sony's PlayStation Network went down for the count earlier this year, it did more than hurt the company's reputation and scare consumers — it led to a litany of class action lawsuits. Consumers take their privacy very seriously, and the breach — which exposed the accounts of millions of registered users — could have been catastrophic. Thankfully, while customer information such as name, address, birthdate, and password was compromised, it appears as though the perpetrators weren't able to utilize the information for nefarious purposes. That's not stopping Sony from taking every available measure to cover themselves in the event of a relapse, and that includes mandating that anyone who uses the PSN is unable to levy legal action against the company.
In a new, mandatory Terms of Service update, Sony has included some fine print dictating that anyone who utilizes the network is entering an agreement with Sony to refrain from joining any class action suit against the company. The class action clause is designed to ensure that anyone who wants to take on the massive company will have to do so on an individual basis, in which case Sony — with its corporate legal team — would likely walk out the victor. The waiver portion of the agreement reads:
ANY DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCEEDINGS, WHETHER IN ARBITRATION OR COURT, WILL BE CONDUCTED ONLY ON AN INDIVIDUAL BASIS AND NOT IN A CLASS OR REPRESENTATIVE ACTION OR AS A NAMED OR UNNAMED MEMBER IN A CLASS, CONSOLIDATED, REPRESENTATIVE OR PRIVATE ATTORNEY GENERAL LEGAL ACTION, UNLESS BOTH YOU AND THE SONY ENTITY WITH WHICH YOU HAVE A DISPUTE SPECIFICALLY AGREE TO DO SO IN WRITING FOLLOWING INITIATION OF THE ARBITRATION. THIS PROVISION DOES NOT PRECLUDE YOUR PARTICIPATION AS A MEMBER IN A
CLASS ACTION FILED ON OR BEFORE AUGUST 20, 2011.
However, there is a way to opt out of this somewhat sneaky agreement, but to do so you'll have to put pen to paper. The ToS states that anyone who does not wish to comply with the class action clause can write a letter to Sony stating as much. The fine print reads as follows:
IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO BE BOUND BY THE BINDING ARBITRATION AND CLASS ACTION WAIVER IN THIS SECTION 15, YOU MUST NOTIFY SNEI IN WRITING WITHIN 30 DAYS OF THE DATE THAT YOU ACCEPT THIS AGREEMENT. YOUR WRITTEN NOTIFICATION MUST BE MAILED TO 6080 CENTER DRIVE, 10TH FLOOR, LOS ANGELES, CA 90045, ATTN: LEGAL DEPARTMENT/ARBITRATION AND MUST INCLUDE: (1) YOUR NAME, (2) YOUR ADDRESS, (3) YOUR PSN ACCOUNT NUMBER, IF YOU HAVE ONE, AND (4) A CLEAR STATEMENT THAT YOU DO NOT WISH TO RESOLVE DISPUTES WITH ANY SONY ENTITY THROUGH ARBITRATION.
There is no other way to absolve yourself from the waiver, even though a simple email or button prompt on the PlayStation 3 would have been much more convenient. It's in Sony's favor to make the process of opting out as time consuming as possible, but keeping your legal rights in check is more than enough reason to take the time to send a letter.
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