Sony Fires Off Letter To Press Outlets Demanding They Cease Publication Of And Destroy Any 'Stolen Information'
from the that-one-time-when-a-major-corporation-shot-itself-in-the-face dept
Sony may have no idea how to how to run a secure enterprise, but it doesn’t really take a whole lot of expertise or technical know-how to see that this particular gambit could only backfire.
In a sharply worded letter sent to news organizations, including The New York Times, David Boies, a lawyer for Sony, characterized the documents posted online as “stolen information” and demanded that they be avoided, and destroyed if they had already been downloaded or otherwise acquired.
The studio “does not consent to your possession, review, copying, dissemination, publication, uploading, downloading or making any use” of the information, Mr. Boies wrote in a three-page letter sent Sunday morning to the legal departments of media organizations.
Somebody approved this — someone higher up than David Boies. And that someone should probably step down and concentrate on staining his yacht deck or seeking to be nominated in the next Congressional election, or whatever it is studio execs do when they’ve outlived their usefulness.
The letter’s wording [pdf link] makes it sound as though the press outlets are doing something illegal (mainly through repetitive use of the word “stolen”) but is careful never to make that actual claim. It tries to bluster its way towards legitimacy by inserting a list of “in case of ‘stolen’ information” requests (worded to look like legal demands) into the letter.
As soon as you suspect that you may have possession of any of the Stolen Information*, we ask that you
(1) notify us using the contact information provided below;
(2) take all reasonable actions to prevent your company and any of your employees, independent contractors, agents, consultants, or anyone who may have access to your files from examining, copying, disseminating, distributing, publishing, downloading,uploading, or making any other use of the Stolen Information;
(3) arrange for and supervise the destruction of all copies of the Stolen Information in your possession or under your control, particularly information protected under US. and foreign legal doctrines protecting attorney-client privileged communications, attorney work product, and related privileges and protections, as well as private financial and other confidential information and communications of current and former personnel and others, confidential personnel data, intellectual property, trade secrets andother business secrets and related communications; and
(4) confirm that such destruction has been completed.**
In addition, if you have provided the Stolen Information to anyone outside of your company, we ask that you provide them with a copy of this letter, and request the destruction of the Stolen Information by the recipient.
[*”Stolen Information” being much more sensitive than your garden variety, lower-case “stolen information,” obvs.]
[**”Recycle Bin had little pieces of paper in it, but now appears to be empty.”]
I imagine the contact information provided is swiftly being bombarded with ridicule, fake tips, more ridicule, more fake tips and pictures of empty Recycle Bins.
The only threat in the document (other than the overall tone) is this:
If you do not comply with this request, and the Stolen Information is used or disseminated by you in any manner, SPE will have no choice but to hold you responsible for any damage or loss arising from such use or dissemination by you, including any damages or loss to SPE or others, and including, but not limited to, any loss of value of intellectual property and trade secrets resulting from your actions.
In a 6-3 opinion delivered by Justice John Paul Stevens, the Court held that the First Amendment protects the disclosure of illegally intercepted communications by parties who did not participate in the illegal interception.
The only mitigating factor is the relative worth of the “stolen information” to the public interest. Much of what’s been covered likely isn’t and much of what’s contained in the files that hasn’t been disseminated by press outlets definitely isn’t. But there are some revelations that are definitely matters of public interest, not the least of which is the MPAA’s plan to throw money at elected officials in exchange for some Google-hassling.
Sony appears to be in full panic mode, but it’s tough to sympathize with a corporation that has been hacked 56 times in 12 years but still keeps passwords in a folder labeled “Passwords.” This latest move won’t earn it anything more than an internetload of derision.