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Anonymous is none too pleased with Sony Computer Entertainment of America LLC.  (Source: Anonymous)

Anonymous members use tools like the Low Orbit Ion Cannon to spam sites out of commission.  (Source: J. Hua)

George "GeoHot" Hotz is keeping his head up despite his legal troubles.  (Source: GeoHot)
Collective isn't happy with Sony's aggressive legal attempts to suppress PS3 jailbreak

Even as 21-year-old iPhone hacker George "GeoHot" Hotz's legal troubles with Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC (SCEA) continue, a collective of online hackers and internet lovers has banded together to try to deliver a more pointed response.

I. Anonymous Strikes Back at Sony

Anonymous, the loosely organized (or some would argue completely unorganized) group of hackers derived from the image message board site 4Chan, has called out  for its lawsuit of GeoHot.  They have posted an online threat "warning" Sony that there would be consequences.  

Writes the group:
Dear Greedy Motherf*ckers (sic) SONY,

Congratulations! You are now receiving the attention of Anonymous. Your recent legal actions against fellow internet citizens, GeoHot and Graf_Chokolo have been deemed an unforgivable offense against free speech and internet freedom, primary sources of free lulz (and you know how we feel about lulz.)

You have abused the judicial system in an attempt to censor information about how your products work. You have victimized your own customers merely for possessing and sharing information, and continue to target those who seek this information. In doing so you have violated the privacy of thousands of innocent people who only sought the free distribution of information. Your suppression of this information is motivated by corporate greed and the desire for complete control over the actions of individuals who purchase and use your products, at least when those actions threaten to undermine the corrupt stranglehold you seek to maintain over copywrong, oops, "copyright".

Your corrupt business practices are indicative of a corporate philosophy that would deny consumers the right to use products they have paid for, and rightfully own, in the manner of their choosing. Perhaps you should alert your customers to the fact that they are apparently only renting your products? In light of this assault on both rights and free expression, Anonymous, the notoriously handsome rulers of the internet, would like to inform you that you have only been "renting" your web domains. Having trodden upon Anonymous' rights, you must now be trodden on.

If you disagree with the disciplinary actions against your private parts domains, then we trust you can also understand our motivations for these actions. You own your domains. You paid for them with your own money. Now Anonymous is attacking your private property because we disagree with your actions. And that seems, dare we say it, "wrong." Sound familiar?

Let Anonymous teach you a few important lessons that your mother forgot:
1. Don't do it to someone else if you don't want it to be done to you.
2. Information is free.
3. We own this. Forever.

As for the "judges" and complicit legal entities who have enabled these cowards: You are no better than SONY itself in our eyes and remain guilty of undermining the well-being of the populace and subverting your judicial mandate.

We are Anonymous.
We are Legion.
We do not Forgive.
We do not Forget.
Expect us.
Based on the group's description and IRC chatter, it appears that members are engaging in impromptu denial of service raids against Sony's online properties.  Many Anonymous members champion distributed denial of service tools like Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC) that allow individuals to easily spam websites with requests.  If enough members participate in the attack, even a small group can overwhelm a major site.

That said, some members reportedly use "dirtier" tactics, such as employing attacks from botnets of infected machines.  Anonymous members also are rumored to have occasionally engaged in and/or threatened personal attacks on members of organizations they are targeting.

DDoS attacks using a user's own machine are of questionable legality.  While not explicitly mentioned under U.S. computer crime legislation, they likely fall under the auspice of an attack on a business, something the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1984.

Anonymous had previously called on a boycott of SCEA products, though many questioned how much effect the boycott by the relatively small ~10,000 member collective would have.

II.  Why the Fuss?

Sony sued GeoHot back in January 2011 for posting keys that would defeat Sony's copy protection scheme.  GeoHot had been brought onboard the onlocking project by fail0verflow, a group of German hackers, as the jailbreak used a smart phone for part of the process.

The effort to jailbreak the PS3 was born out of Sony's decision to ditch Linux support with the release of the PS3 Slim in August 2009.  It is unclear why Sony made that decision given that the PS3 Slim was more than capable of supporting a Linux install.  Sony has since locked "Fat" PS3s out of new installs of Linux, as well, via a system update.

GeoHot has offered to stop distributing the keys if Sony provides a means to install home brew and third party software on the PlayStation 3.  He has also offered to work as a consultant for Sony or the other major console makers (Microsoft and Nintendo) in safeguarding their next-generation consoles from jailbreaks.

Sony hasn't exactly responded warmly.  Thanks an overly permissive judge, it managed to subpoena Mr. Hotz's Paypal [PDF]; Twitter; YouTube and Google [PDF]; and the IP addresses of visitors [PDF].  

Sony claims that it needs access to all of Mr. Hotz's personal accounts to try to monitor if he profited off the release of the hack, some Mr. Hotz denies having done.

Mr. Hotz's German colleagues seemingly have it even worse.  According to Mr. Hotz, at least one of them had their home trashed by German police executing a search warrant at the behest of Sony.

While the full jailbreak offers a route to legitimate/semi-legitimate uses like homebrew and third party operating systems, it also opens the door to darker pastures like piracy and in-game cheating.  GeoHot has stated that he does not support such actions and that he exclusively executed the jailbreak in support of the homebrew movement.

GeoHot is most famous for perpetually defeating the carrier and application restrictions on Apple's iPhone.

The term "jailbreak" is a term that refers to removing protections against running unauthorized software on an electronic device.  This is not to be confused with "unlocking" which refers to removing carrier restrictions on smartphones (something GeoHot also participates in).

As we pointed out in our previous coverage, while, smartphones recently received official endorsement to be jailbroken, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act [PDF] seems to still outlaw jailbreaks on other devices, such as the PS3.  Ultimately, these seemingly contradictory stances may offer the legal team of GeoHot grounds to challenge the legality of enforcing some jailbreaking provisions, but not others.


Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Anonymous
By flyingpants1 on 4/4/2011 12:11:15 PM , Rating: 2
These are probably those russian criminal guys, and are not necessarily representative of the "Anonymous leadership". Anyone could set up an IRC server and claim to be anons. Just saying.




RE: Anonymous
By Netscorer on 4/4/2011 3:01:29 PM , Rating: 3
Whoever they are, at least they are trying. What are you doing to protect your own rights as a consumer?
Just saying.


RE: Anonymous
By Argon18 on 4/4/2011 10:32:25 PM , Rating: 1
I'm working within the system, not illegally like this band of juvenile criminals called "anomymous". screw these "anonymous" douchebags and their stupid antics. i hope they all get thrown in jail.


RE: Anonymous
By Jalek on 4/5/2011 12:44:40 AM , Rating: 2
So, you're not buying their products and complaining on message forums? That's about the extent of "working within the system", though you have to be careful if you do buy any product they can ban or disable remotely since you have no recourse against that.

The other options is hiring a bigger team of lawyers to beat up their lawyers if you happen to have a few tens of millions lying around.


RE: Anonymous
By dark matter on 4/5/2011 2:56:16 AM , Rating: 2
It's worth bearing in mind that justice is purchased these days.

And as for your comment about "working within the system", can you elaborate?


RE: Anonymous
By Cerin218 on 4/5/2011 10:49:30 AM , Rating: 2
The poster isn't doing anything. What they mean by "working within the system" is they only approve of legal resolutions, and that they see this hacker attack as illegal, and thereby disapprove.


RE: Anonymous
By Argon18 on 4/5/2011 1:24:13 PM , Rating: 2
You couldn't be more wrong. By "working within the system", I mean I'm voting with my dollars. Sony wants to cripple the PS3 and restrict its use? Fine. I'm done with it. I can run Linux on other hardware instead of PS3, and no longer purchase any more products or services from Sony. I sent them a letter stating my intentions, and the reasons behind them. That is working within the system. Vote with your dollars, and voice your displeasure. That is the only thing big companies take seriously - the almighty dollar. Do you think they take a bunch of pimple-faced teenage hackers seriously? This news article tells us the answer is no.


"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes














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