2011’s hacking of the PlayStation Network comes back into headlines again, as Sony agrees to a class action lawsuit settlement that could be worth millions.
On Wednesday, the US District Court for the Southern District of California preliminarily approved Sony’s offer to a $15 million settlement over the PlayStation Network data breach of 2011, where hackers gained access to customer’s personal information and forced the online service to shut down for many weeks.
After the consequences of the breach, which cost Sony in the “billions of dollars” to correct (not to mention a huge kick to the gut reputation wise), you’ll remember that the company later publicly apologized and reimbursed PSN users, offering up free games, trial-memberships to PlayStation Plus, and free credit reports.
While a show of good accountability, it did nothing to stop the filing of a class action lawsuit in April 2011 by the Rothken Law Firm of California, who accused Sony of allegedly failing “to take reasonable care to protect, encrypt, and secure the private and sensitive data.”
Sony denied the allegations being brought up in the class action lawsuit up till now (charges the company cited had been previously dismissed by the trial court), but through Wednesday’s actions and wanting to escape further legal costs, the company has agreed to terms with a settlement that still needs to be approved by the judge in charge.
Inevitably, the $15 million settlement is expected to be divvied to all plaintiffs involved through the means of free PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable games, free PS3 themes, free subscriptions to the Music Unlimited service and PlayStation Plus, and free funds to the Sony Online Entertainment Station.
There will be two different tiers to the settlement reimbursement process though, with those who did not take advantage of the “Welcome Back” benefits package in 2011 given the option to choose from two items from one of the aforementioned groups, and those who did with only one selection.
Both parties will fall under an aggregate cap of $6 million (for the non-Welcome Back group) and $4 million (for the Welcome Back group), and once both claims are reached, all parties will be rewarded one month PlayStation Plus membership.
Awards of real cash value – of up to $2,500 – might be eligible to those who can prove if some form of identity theft was somehow acted upon them. When all affected parties are accounted for, the rest of the settlement ($2.75 million) will be paid in attorney fees per the of terms of the agreement.
The final hearing to the class action lawsuit, putting a thankful end to the circumstances surrounding the 2011 PSN data breach, is expected to commence on May 1, 2015. There, the judge will will assess the reasonableness of the settlement and give their approval.