In a continuing streak of misfortune for hacker George ‘Geohot’ Hotz, the guy who originally hacked the iPhone, a magistrate judge in California federal court has now granted Sony’s subpoena for information regarding visitors to the website of defendant Hotz.
Back in January, Sony brought a lawsuit against Hotz for jailbreaking Sony’s PlayStation 3 console. More recently, the district court judge in the case granted Sony’s discovery request for access to Hotz’s computer hard drives.
Sony contends that the subpoena is not overly broad, but the actual wording seems broad indeed:
“all server logs, IP address logs, account information, account access records and application or registration forms [and] any other identifying information corresponding to persons or computers who have accessed or downloaded files hosted using your service and associated with the http://www.geohot.com website, including but not limited to the geohot.com/jailbreak.zip file.”
The breadth and potential unfairness of the subpoena has not been lost on commentators. A recent article on CrunchGear.com points out that just about “everyone who visited GeoHot’s site (or his blog at Blogspot) is subject to involvement in this case.” And RedmondPie.com has echoed those sentiments.
The problem gets worse, though. Under the magistrate judge’s ruling, Sony will not only have access to information retained by Bluehost, which was hosting Hotz website when the jailbreak code was posted. Moreover, the court has also granted the PlayStation 3 maker access to Hotz’s account information with YouTube, Twitter, and Google.
RedmondPie.com suggests, “at this rate, we’re all going to get dragged into it for having the audacity to watch a YouTube video or following the wrong person on Twitter.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has also found the breadth of the subpoena disturbing. In a letter to the magistrate judge, the EFF argues that “the discovery seeks information about non-parties [and] the relationship to the narrow jurisdictional question at issue seem tenuous at best.”
Meanwhile, Hotz has apparently been on vacation in South America and seems to be enjoying his depiction as an “international fugitive.”
Christopher Dize graduated summa cum laude from Salisbury University. He will receive his J.D. from Seton Hall University School of Law in 2011. After graduation, Chris will clerk for a judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division. He has interned with judges of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. Chris currently works for a litigation firm in New Jersey.