Sony backpedals on privacy flap

Mega-corporation gives in to the rude masses

Sony caved in to populist threats to its bottom line this week as players of its on-line game EverQuest rose to arms over a bizarre proposal to monitor their computers for "hacking tools" as a condition of joining the game. The game's developers, Verant Interactive, announced its intention to bar people from the game who refuse to open their systems to some sort of automated inspection routine. But after a populist outcry on numerous BBS' devoted to the game, the company hastily changed its tune. "We can admit when we make mistakes, and I believe this is a case where we owe an apology to our player base," Verant Interactive CEO John Smedley wrote. "In our haste to try and thwart people from damaging the game, we went overboard." It's a comforting story, and not unusual. Recent outcry over Internet advertising outfit DoubleClick's plans to collect and distribute personal information brought about a swift reversal, as did controversy over Intel's plans for a Pentium-III serial number ID system. It just goes to show that mighty corporate Titans can be slapped around with impunity so long as the teeming millions have the presence of mind to attack where it hurts: the sacred bottom line. ®

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