Last year, Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. was hacked by North Koreans, angered over the portrayal of their country in the movie, “The Interview.” The hackers gained access to Sony employees’ personal information, possibly including social security numbers, driver’s license and passport numbers, bank and credit-card information, and medical records. In response, former Sony employees are suing the media giant, alleging Sony was negligent in not maintaining adequate security to stop hackers from getting into the company’s computer systems. Sony tried to have the lawsuit dismissed, but in June, 2015, a Los Angeles federal judge ruled that the suit could continue.
In addition to the claims of negligence, the plaintiffs also brought addition claims, including a contract-based one. The federal judge did dismiss the contract claim and a few others, but the claims of negligence will continue on a path toward trial.
Sony claims that the plaintiffs failed to show that they sustained any injuries, a required requisite to proving a negligence claim. The judge, however, pointed to allegations of threatening emails and claims that personal information was posted on file-sharing websites. He found that these allegations alone are enough to “establish a credible threat of real and immediate harm, or certainly impending injury.” The plaintiffs also claimed that the costs associated with password protection and credit monitoring, amongst other things, are already incurred injuries as well.
The plaintiffs claim that since they had to give Sony their personal information in order to receive their pay and employment benefits, the hack was intended to affect them. The plaintiffs also claim that audits of Sony’s security systems, coupled with prior data breaches at other Sony companies, made it foreseeable that a data breach would occur and that the plaintiffs’ would suffer harm. Yet Sony made a “business decision” to not spend the money needed to improve its system, and instead accepted “the risk of a security breach.” Ultimately, the plaintiffs claim that this failed to protect employees.
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