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Sony and “friends” Or transparent damage limitation open letter style?

The Sony hack has been very well documented and probably one of the few times when I have seen “average users” taking an interest in tech issues.  True, this interest may have been merely selfish, but as a testament to the popularity of the PS3 I have had numerous “non-tech” folks engage me in conversation about their lack of PSN access and its ramifications.

I’ve said on numerous occasions that I think Sony products are excellent and to that, I stand by my view completely, however  I am very quick to jump on the shortcomings of others and it would be nothing short of hypocritical should I not do the same for Sony in light of this attack.

Recently Howard Stringer (Chairman, Chief Executive and President of Sony Corp) posted an open letter on the Playstation blog, giving one of those “update with no update” type responses to the millions of customers who by now are probably very irate at having no PSN for a considerable time.

You can view the entire letter here, but I wanted to point out a few of Mr Stringer’s remarks and put my take on them as well as my interpretation of this open letter.

Being without the PSN was no issue to me, in fact I don’t think I would have even accessed it over the last few weeks because of commitments elsewhere, but with that in mind, in the first two words of the open letter, Mr Stringer managed to get my back up.

“Dear Friends” – No Sony, we are not friends.  We are paying customers.  If your customer base now looks towards the WII and 360 for entertainment are we still your “friends” then? – I wouldn’t think so and I hope my perception of what Mr Stringer is trying to achieve here was obvious to anyone reading this open letter.

So we sift through the rest of the text, which seems to talk a lot about nothing and really just give users a “no update, update”.  Until that is we get to one of the final paragraphs:

In the last few months, Sony has faced a terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan. But now we are facing a very man-made event – a criminal attack on us — and on you 

Source: Sony Blog

This part sat very badly with me.  Why should Sony bring in a natural disaster where tragically people died into the same discussion as that of the apparent failings of Sony’s server security?  That to me is wrong.  Very wrong.   The tragedy of the Tsunami deserves an article all of its own (as we have already seen), not to be tacked onto some apology regarding Sony having to take down the PSN.

Then we look at the final part “a criminal attack on us — and on you ”    Sony, let’s get something straight.  Whilst a “cyber-attack” for any reason cannot be condoned, this wasn’t an attack on “us” was it?  It was an attack on YOU, made possible with what appears now to be lacking security on your servers.  “WE” were caught up in this as we entrusted our personal details to YOU.  The attack on us will come if indeed bank card/personal details have been exploited and we see money sifted from our accounts.

Sony, lets set some boundaries here.  We are not “friends” we are your customers. You sell, we buy.  “Unfortunately” customers have choice so if your products are not up to task, then they can go elsewhere.  I perceive your letter to be a rather poor attempt to try to group customers and yourselves as some form of collective victim.  It’s not a bad idea if it works since it would mean that customers would feel together with Sony, ergo less critical and harsh of what has occurred.  Sony, lets not forget it was YOUR shortcomings with YOUR server security that led to so many people being inconvenienced and I wonder if you are going after the culprits as vigorously as you went after Mr Hotz.  If so then we should see them brought to justice very shortly.

I’m not going to bring in the rootkey issue as it was not something I had considered using.  The “otherOS” issue, whilst I was disappointed,  was not the reason for my purchase of a PS3.  So for me this comes down to me trusting Sony with my details and now finding that the trust may have been misplaced.

Will I be going over to the 360 or WII? No – The Playstation 3 is, in my view the best entertainment suite of the three, but don’t try to soften things by making me part of some big Sony family that has collectively been the victim of hackers.

I’ve given up with second guessing when the PSN will resurface, so my question now is, who was the person in Sony who thought Mr Stringers letter was either a good idea or enough to appease anyone?  Does the Sony PR team really think that letter would wash or was a good idea? That for me is a bigger question than who hacked the PSN.

I would love to hear from anyone happy and comforted by being “friends” and who saw this open letter appeasing them with their frustrations at having no PSN.  In the meantime, I’ve taken the liberty of re-writing the aforementioned letter in a way that I would have liked to have seen:

Dear Valued Customer,

The Cyber-attack has been well documented.  It is with deep regret that our customers have suffered as result of failings in PSN security.  I would like to say that Sony’s intention is to provide you with a safe and enjoyable environment and that is always of utmost importance to us.  Its important because as paying customers you sustain us and its important that in the face of stiff competition from WII and 360, we want to keep your custom.

I cannot give you exact dates for when the PSN will be back up in your respective area’s, what I can say is that the finer details about what we are doing to work on this problem are academic to customers merely wanting their online facility back and to be assured that their personal details are safe.

Sony will ensure to the best of its ability that when the PSN is back online, there is not a repeat of this incident and in the meantime I thank you for your patience and thank you for staying with us.  Your custom is important, without you there is no product.

Yours,

Goblin

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

Mail: bytes4free@googlemail.com
Skype: tim.openbytes
I can also be found in #techrights, #techbytes on freenode.net.
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About Tim Sparrow

Online tech writer, novelist/author of sci-fi literature and co-host of the TechBytes Show! I believe in multi-culturism & diversity. Luton Town FC supporter.

Discussion

4 thoughts on “Sony and “friends” Or transparent damage limitation open letter style?

  1. “We discovered a file making a clear reference to ‘Username unknown,’” the company said in a letter to the US Congress on Wednesday, “and a blank user icon which therefore was … anonymous! D’you see what that means? It means George Hotz and his hacker friends are loathsome criminal masterminds! So obviously we can’t be held liable for negligence in the face of forces like these. In conclusion, give us money.” http://newstechnica.com/?p=3057

    Posted by David Gerard | May 8, 2011, 10:39 am
  2. lol yes it would seem like that!

    I personally have no problem with large corporations like Sony, I will buy their products if they are best for me. What I won’t do is have sympathy nor buy into this happy family they would like create. They provide a service/product we buy if we think it worth the money, I’m sure Sony wouldn’t have many “friends” if their console had a z80 processor and 48k of ram.

    One thing that was missed though. …. Some Microsoft Advocates claim that Windows is the target of exploits because its used by so many people. Is this theory then proof of their view that the PS3 has beaten the 360? After all its been exploited so “it must” be the most popular and successful.

    Kind regards
    Tim.

    Posted by openbytes | May 8, 2011, 10:46 am
  3. Check out your local Sony store. Then check out your local Apple store. Tell me which one looks like it’s more successful.

    Sony has blown it. And adding insult to injury, sending out a letter like that? Yeah, right.

    Wayne

    Posted by The Mad Hatter | May 8, 2011, 11:13 pm

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about.me

Tim Wilson

Tim Wilson

Writer/Novelist of many facets both in the world of technology and fantasy/sci-fi. Co-host of the TechBytes audiocast and writer for both OpenBytes and Goblin's Domain. Supporter of free and open source software.

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