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No court order against PlayStation hackers for now

No personal jurisdiction

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Suit lambasted by critics

The action has been lambasted by technologists and legal scholars who believe that people should have the right to do what they want with the hardware they own.

“You bought the computer,” George Washington School of Law professor Orin Kerr wrote on The Volokh Conspiracy blog. “You own it. You can sell it. You can light it on fire. You can bring it to the ocean, put it on a life raft, and push it out to sea. But if you dare do anything that violates the fine print of the license that the manufacturer is trying to impose, then you're guilty of trespassing onto your own property. And it's not just a civil wrong, it's a crime.”

As Christopher Soghoian, a Ph.D. candidate in Indiana University's School of Informatics and Computing program, blogged on Friday, the PlayStation rooting was inevitable following last year's highly controversial disabling of the OtherOS, which made it easy for users to install Linux on the PlayStation. Sony took that action to disable an earlier hack, released by Geohot, that allowed full memory access, including ring 0 access from OtherOS.

“Users were thus given a choice,” Soghoian wrote of Sony's decision to disable OtherOS. “If they kept the old firmware, they got to keep using Linux, but lost access to Sony's Playstation Network, and the ability to play games online. Alternatively, users could upgrade the firmware, keep playing new titles, but lose access to the Linux functionality.”

The use of IBM's Cell processor makes the PlayStation ideal for performing brute force crypto attacks, among other things. Once OtherOS was removed, people who wanted to use the console for such uses had little choice but to hack it.

Hotz was among the first to jailbreak Apple's iPhone so it would work on carrier networks other than AT&T's. Last year, the US Copyright Office exempted iPhone jailbreaking from the DMCA so that they can run apps not officially sanctioned by Apple.

Illston said she may still decide that she has jurisdiction over Hotz if presented with evidence of more substantial contacts to Northern California. ®

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