Query: If I donated $10 to Geohot’s legal defense fund, does that make me liable for his actions, and do I have no right to keeping that donation private? It was, after all (if I made it), a perfectly legal transaction between two private citizens. Well, according to Sony and Federal Magistrate Spero (who just a short time ago approved Sony’s request for all IPs visiting the hacker’s site), I’m going to be on the record whether you like it or not.
A new request from Sony has been granted that is, well, not quite as heinous as the last one, but is still troubling and overreaching. They want his PayPal records for all of 2009, 2010, and January of 2011. Because that whole period is relevant to a hack he worked out less than three months ago, right?
Yes, apparently Sony needs records reaching back a full two years — and remember, all this is to determine whether George Hotz should be tried in his home state, where the alleged crimes occurred, or in San Francisco, near Sony’s US headquarters.
Again, the inability of this judge to form any kind of criticism of these ridiculous requests by Sony is alarming in the extreme. Here is a man who, on the flimsy pretext of a trumpery jurisdictional dispute, is handing over years’ worth of data that personally identifies thousands of people who have nothing to do with this case. It’s as if Sony lost a dollar at the beach, and has now asked the judge to authorize dredging the harbor. The EFF objected to the last order, and will surely object to this one, but the damage is essentially done unless PayPal and friends decline to provide this information, in solidarity with Hotz, and countersue Sony.
—I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Sony is completely out of touch here and can only damage its image further. The judge, a few years will show, has shown himself incapable of discharging his duty, and furthermore is failing the citizens he serves by not even attempting to mitigate a major corporation’s efforts to crush a 21-year-old kid who, let us remember, is presumed innocent. I apologize for editorializing here, but this really appears to me to be a serious breach of justice.