Sony wants you to know that it isn't evil for sneakily changing its PSN terms of service; the Supreme Court totally said this sort of thing is totally cool to do.
Sony hasn't won too many fans with the recent changes its PSN terms of service. A large part of this disapproval is because it seems like the company is trying to protect itself from future class-action lawsuits in case it finds itself in a similar situation to this year's earlier PSN hack. However, Sony has revealed that it's implemented the change not because of the hack, but because of a recent Supreme Court decision that makes such language acceptable to use.
In case you missed the news last week, Sony included a "Binding Individual Arbitration" clause that included the following language: "Any Dispute Resolution Proceedings, whether in arbitration or court, will be conducted only on an individual basis and not in a class or representative action or as a named or unnamed member in a class, consolidated, representative or private attorney general action."
The clause, it turns out, was implemented because of the Supreme Court's decision regarding the AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion case. The Court ruled that AT&T was allowed to enforce a clause in employee contracts that prevented workers from filing class-action lawsuits and - instead - make the wronged minions go through arbitration proceedings.
in an email to CNN, Sony explained the logic:
The Supreme Court recently ruled in the AT&T case that language like this is enforceable. The updated language in the TOS is designed to benefit both the consumer and the company by ensuring that there is adequate time and procedures to resolve disputes."
It's certainly not surprising that Sony would rather go to arbitration instead of a courtroom. As CNN notes, arbiters are often retired judges who are paid obscenely well and tend to be friendlier towards corporations than individuals.
However, the revised terms of service may very well be legally challenged in the near future. Apparently a number of legal experts don't think it'll actually stand up to the scrutiny of the law, thanks in large part to how Sony informed consumers of the change (read: hoping they wouldn't notice when they agreed to the latest ToS changes).