Sony Pictures, Which Hyped Up 'Harm' Of Hack, Now Tells Court No Harm Done To Employees

from the thread-that-needle,-sony... dept

In the wake of the Sony Pictures hack, the company went somewhat ballistic in trying to describe just how "harmful" the hack was. It brought on famed lawyer David Boies to threaten anyone who published any information from the hack, claiming that it was a violation of the First Amendment (yes, it told the media that publishing news was a violation of the First Amendment). The company also (ridiculously) threatened to sue Twitter, claiming that Twitter would be held "responsible for any damage or loss arising from such use or dissemination by Twitter." Thoughout it all, Sony kept arguing that this hack was a complete disaster and incredibly harmful.

However, now, in court, Sony is suddenly forced to tap dance around those claims and argue that there has been no harm at all done to the employees of the company, who have filed a class action lawsuit against Sony Pictures for failing to protect their data. In a filing first highlighted by Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter, Sony Pictures insists that basically there has been no harm whatsoever and mocks the employees who say otherwise, noting that their "PII" (Personally Identifiable Information) disclosed was not particularly private in the first place.
Plaintiffs’ experiences in the wake of the cyberattack are entirely consistent with the empirical consensus just discussed. To start, the PII disclosed for each Plaintiff varies widely.... For example, Mathis asserts only that her name, SSN, and former (not current) home address were disclosed.... (Even on that score, she appears to be wrong. Plaintiffs cite no evidence that her SSN was disclosed. The sole document they cite... has the SSN of a different Mathis.) For his part, Forster believes an array of his PII was disclosed, including his SSN and birthday, as well as outdated bank information, an invalid driver’s license, and former medical insurance information (which he admits are “useless” or “worthless”)....

What is more, some Plaintiffs maintain active online presences, which means that much of the PII they claim was disclosed in the cyberattack already had voluntarily been made available online. For example, while Forster complains that his title, place of work, and dates on which he joined and left SPE were disclosed, he acknowledges that he had posted that information to LinkedIn and thus could not be harmed by its disclosure.... Levine likewise admits that he has “put a lot of [his] life online.” ... For him and others, a wide range of PII was available online prior to the attack.
The other line of defense? If there is any harm, who can really say that it actually came from the Sony hack, rather than any other recent hack?
Plaintiffs (and, undoubtedly, unnamed classmembers) have been exposed to multiple breaches and incidents of identity theft involving various permutations of their PII.... To prove that any injury—or even risk of future injury—is attributable to the cyberattack, each classmember would have to show that this cyberattack, and not another event, caused any incident of identity fraud.
The other problem is that the only actual loss that any of the plaintiffs show right now was an unauthorized purchase on a credit card, but the filing points out, this employee was fully reimbursed (i.e., no loss) and it's also not at all clear that it happened because of the Sony hack.
Similarly, while Corona claims that somebody made an unauthorized purchase using his credit card after the cyberattack on SPE (for which he was fully reimbursed), he acknowledges that he also had unauthorized purchases on his credit card before the cyberattack, and that he could only “guess” at the connection, if any, between the more recent unauthorized purchase and the cyberattack.
To be honest, Sony's argument here is pretty strong. Courts have pretty consistently rejected class action lawsuits over data breaches when there are no actual losses, or where the losses are purely theoretical. It seems very likely that the former Sony employees here are going to lose.

But... it does seem rather amusing to see Sony -- which went on and on and on about all the "damage" the leak was going to cause -- now have to argue that its own employees experienced no harm at all...

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  • icon
    tom (profile), 31 Aug 2015 @ 10:10am

    The REALLY interesting legal gymnastics will come if they catch the person(s) responsible for the breach. Sony lawyers then will be arguing about the horrible and costly harm the breach caused, after previously arguing that no harm was done, after previously stating how much harm was done.

    Wonder if Sony filed a damage figure in their yearly SEC stock filings?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2015 @ 10:32am

      Re:

      While they are claiming no harm to the employees, this class action is harm to the company, cause by the hackers making their employees think that they have been harmed.

      /Corporations are always in the right logic.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 31 Aug 2015 @ 10:21am

    It's a strategy...

    ...designed to prevent them from disclosing items as evidence.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 31 Aug 2015 @ 10:29am

    Justice for me but not for thee. But now they are in a dead end. Either thy lose this and ramp up the 'damages' trope or they admit nothing was damaged except a few egos and a lot of misbehaving.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2015 @ 10:33am

    "(yes, it told the media that publishing news was a violation of the First Amendment)"

    I try very very hard to respond to people here with how the MPAA/RIAA and others like it would respond. I defended the fact that infringement hinders the humanitarian efforts in Haiti. When I noticed that Google was responsible for all the starving artists and someone asked the valid question of

    "Who's responsible for all the artists who aren't starving?"

    I noticed that it was the RIAA/MPAA and copyright laws. Then they asked another perfectly valid question

    "Who was responsible for all the artists who were starving before Google existed as a handy scapegoat for morons?"

    Which I answered that it was cassette tapes, the printing press, and other technologies.

    But with every passing statement made by these guys they make my job harder and harder. OK, let me try. Here goes.

    Someone is going to invariably ask the valid question of "How is publishing news a violation of the first amendment".

    Because it makes Sony look ridiculous when they lie and so that prevents them from telling certain lies. It forces them to change their lies which impedes their ability to tell their previous lies or else face more public backlash which harms their freedom of speech.

    Also Sony wants to be free to freely discuss internal matters internally. They don't want the public seeing their discussions lest they say something that could embarrass them. Leaking embarrassing information about them could have the effect of limiting their speech in fear of something getting leaked which is not good for the first amendment.

    Uhm ... Do any of the other shills have a better answer? I tried looking for the original claim made by Sony so that I can hopefully get some insight into their reasoning and use that whenever I try to argue that these sorts of leaks are harmful to the first amendment but I can't find it. Using their own arguments is usually the best/easiest way to argue these issues because then if one of my bosses complains that the argument is stupid and makes them look bad and so I'm not a good shill and they want to fire me I can cite a source from the MPAA/RIAA and others like it where the argument was used and claim I am just defending their position as stated by them. That's what they're paying me for right? But so far my shilling organization has been very pleased with my arguments even though I usually find them strange and not making much sense. Hey, it pays the bills, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2015 @ 10:36am

    No, that some persons were harmed but that these aren't can both be true.

    YOU agree with Sony's position on the case, and the rest is vague attack for no obvious cause. State why Sony should NOT have worried over exposure of the data... Can't, eh? So you agree with Sony in all.

    Next baseless gibes, please. I'm timing how long (including reading) takes me to spot the key flaw that renders them utterly pointless. Have thus occupied myself for nearly ten seconds on items today.


    Tired of slow page loading waiting on javascripts and images, and of not seeing comments the fanboys have censored?

    Use the new Techdirt Lite!
    https://www.techdirt.com/?_format=lite

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      shill on drugs, 31 Aug 2015 @ 10:46am

      Re: No, that some persons were harmed but that these aren't can both be true.

      Wow, I can't really understand what you are trying to say. Perhaps if I made my claims less understandable like you someone might be fooled into thinking there is a valid point somewhere. My bosses would be pleased. Maybe I would even get a raise!!!

      /sarcasm.

      And while I'm sure your post was sarcasm it's not that far off from the real thing. Marked as funny.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 31 Aug 2015 @ 11:13am

      Re: No, that some persons were harmed but that these aren't can both be true.

      Unless you type and read very, very fast I'd say your perception of time is a bit flawed. Didn't you mean 10 hours?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      icon
      ottermaton (profile), 31 Aug 2015 @ 11:19am

      Re: idiots replying to the idiot

      It's almost funny, but mostly just sad.

      If only people would click Report on the troll feeders ...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2015 @ 6:15pm

      Re:

      out_of_the_blue absolutely loathes it when due process is enforced.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Christenson, 31 Aug 2015 @ 11:26am

    Impeach the witness, anyone?

    We have Sony saying two contradictory things. How can one word of their testimony carry any weight?

    Falsus in unum, Falsus in omnes!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2015 @ 11:54am

      Re: Impeach the witness, anyone?

      Companies do this sort of thing all the time -- have one legal team making its case in one court, then another legal team making the exact opposite argument in another court battle. The supposedly sacred principles they will insist must be followed often shift like the wind. We must keep in mind that as long as it's coming out of the mouth of a lawyer, it's never perjury, no matter how big the lies.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2015 @ 6:05pm

        Re: Re: Impeach the witness, anyone?

        Remember, this is the same Sony who used to make blank audio cassettes, blank video cassettes, CD-R's, DVD-R's and the devices needed to record on them and fought in court to make some of those devices.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2015 @ 10:09pm

          Re: Re: Re: Impeach the witness, anyone?

          Maybe we need to differentiate between the Old Sony and the New Sony.

          Although Sony originally fought on the side of the consumer, their principled stance flip-flopped when the company acquired a Hollywood movie studio as well as a record label.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2015 @ 1:53pm

      Re: Impeach the witness, anyone?

      They have better paradox crumple-zones in their legal teams.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2015 @ 12:08pm

    Tangential observation

    her name, SSN, and former (not current) home address were disclosed.... his SSN and birthday, as well as outdated bank information, an invalid driver’s license, and former medical insurance information (which he admits are “useless” or “worthless”)....
    Anyone ever have to prove their identity online, particularly to a credit agency or governmental organization? Questions like "Which of the following addresses have you ever resided at?" and "Have you ever held an account at one of the following banks?" are quite common. Outdated PII is most definitely not useless.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2015 @ 1:21pm

      Re: Tangential observation

      I've gotten these a few times. The fun ones are when NONE of the answers are right and there is NO "none of the above" option!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 10:50am

      Re: Tangential observation

      "Questions like "Which of the following addresses have you ever resided at?" and "Have you ever held an account at one of the following banks?" are quite common."

      I encountered those trying to get my credit report. Unfortunately, I was unable to correctly answer the "which address did you live at" question. I've live at a lot of addresses in my life, and I have long forgotten most of them.

      Outdated PII, in this case, was not only useless, it actively prevented me from getting my credit report. I still haven't been able to get around that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Wyrm (profile), 31 Aug 2015 @ 4:40pm

    Remember "1984"?
    Newspeak, where inconsistencies are a feature.
    It particularly includes the notion of "doublethink" which describes how people can accept two contradictory statements as both valid.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doublethink

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lisboeta, 1 Sep 2015 @ 6:48am

    Some persons were harmed, but others weren't

    Is it so hard to understand "context"? Sony was harmed. No-one else was. /s

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2015 @ 2:07pm

    I know there is absolutely no basis for this in modern legal jurisprudence but I would love to see sony get kicked right in the cunt for all it's bull shit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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