After a series of massive data breaches which hit the PlayStation Network last year, Sony is facing pressure from legal action and class-action suits relating to loss of data and security lapses.
But the new terms and conditions of the PlayStation Network now includes a new clause for which users waive the right to collectively take legal action against Sony over future hacks or breaches -- or face bans from the service.
When users log in, the re-written terms will be displayed, and must be accepted to continue to play on the network. Gamers will now have to try to resolve any legal disputes with a Sony appointed arbitrator before a suit can be filed, according to the new terms.
The new terms includes specific wording to future-proof the company against legal action:
"Class Action Waiver. 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, UNLESS BOTH YOU AND THE SONY ENTITY WITH WHICH YOU HAVE A DISPUTE SPECIFICALLY AGREE TO DO SO IN WRITING FOLLOWING INITIATION OF THE ARBITRATION."
The Register points out users who wish to opt-out of the clause can do so, by sending a letter to Sony's Los Angeles headquarters. Subscribers will then be able to hold onto their right to file a class-action suit without arbitration.
Earlier this year, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Sony in April after the first hack, which led to the theft of 77 million users' personal details, including email and postal addresses and passwords. The PlayStation Network was brought offline for forty days in a bid to salvage the network and to bolster the services' security.
At the height of the 'summer of hacking' by group Lulz Security, it was first suspected that the group could have been behind the hack. Sony blamed Anonymous, the wider hacking collective, but it shortly after denied its involvement. Lulz Security subsequently hacked a number of Sony websites as part of its wider AntiSec ('anti-security') campaign.
The full terms of service agreement can be found here [PDF].