Germany pushes for Sony penalties after data exposure
Apr 28, 2011, 12:07 GMT
Berlin - Germany sought punishment for Sony Thursday after the Japan-based entertainment group admitted a hacker stole the data of 77 million users of its Playstation Network.
Peter Schaar, federal data privacy commissioner, charged that Sony had breached a legal duty to publicize the data loss quickly.
Critics say Sony waited a week after the network breach to make it public, prompting millions of users to change their passwords. The breach knocked out Sony's online video game system and also exposed users' personal data, including possibly their credit card information, the company said Tuesday.
Schaar said on ARD television that claimants would have to research if they could prove Sony's announcement came too late.
One privacy commissioner urged Germans to sue Sony if the hackers used credit card data they obtained to steal money.
Another commissioner demanded changes in the law that would enable people to fine firms such as Sony that have headquarters outside the European Union. He proposed that each firm be forced to nominate an executive who could be taken to court in Germany.
The network breach at Sony has been major news in Germany, where even perceived threats to individual privacy are a cause for concern for many people.
Thilo Weichert, privacy commissioner of the state of Schleswig- Holstein and a longtime campaigner for stricter data laws, said German law should be overhauled to boost his powers.
'Our problem is that companies like Apple, Google and probably Sony too don't have legally responsible persons in Europe. With Google for example, we have to go after them in the United States,' he told the German Press Agency dpa.
He said the multinationals' local units were merely sales arms and could not be punished in German courts.
'If we slap a fine on Google, we have to apply it to a US corporation, and it's up to them if they pay it or not,' he said.
Weichert, who is a lawyer, said he was certain Sony would be legally liable under German law for any credit card fraud enabled by the theft of data from its servers, but admitted he was uncertain if German courts would accept such lawsuits.
Sony says the 'illegal and unauthorized intrusion' occurred between April 17 and 19, prompting the company to shut down the Playstation Network as well as the Qriocity music and video service.
Read more about Business
Read more about Germany
Read more about Japan Crime
Read more about Sony