PhotoA settlement has been proposed in a Canadian lawsuit focusing on hacks of Sony’s PlayStation Network (“PSN”) and Sony Computer Entertainment (“SOE”).

The suit, filed in May 2011, grew out of two apparent system hacks that potentially exposed gamers’ information. Lead plaintiff Natasha Maksimovic, a 21-year-old Canadian gamer, sought $1.04 billion in damages.

Timeline of hacks

The first hack occurred in April 2011. After the PlayStation Network was down for several days, Sony Computer Entertainment released a statement explaining that an illegal entry of its network had potentially exposed sensitive user information to unauthorized individuals.

In its statement, Sony Computer Entertainment said, “We believe that an unauthorized person has obtained the following information that you provided: name, address (city, state, zip), country, email address, birthdate, PlayStation Network/Qriocity password and login, and handle/PSN online ID.”

Sony added that “[w]hile there is no evidence at this time that credit card data was taken, we cannot rule out the possibility.”

Within a week, Sony Online Entertainment discovered that its own system had been hacked as well. Sony revealed that “[s]tolen information [in the SOE hack] includes, to the extent you provided it to us, the following: name, address (city, state, zip, country), email address, gender, birthdate, phone number, login name and hashed password.

Congressional subcommittee called for investigation

The hack led to calls for a Congressional investigation, with the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade of the U.S. House of Representatives sending a letter with 13 questions to Sony chairman Kazuo Hirai.

“If you can’t trust a huge multi-national corporation like Sony to protect your private information, who can you trust?” Maksimovic said at the time the suit was filed. “It appears to me that Sony focuses more on protecting its games than its PlayStation users.”

Terms of settlement

The settlement applies to Canadian residents who had a PSN account before May 15, 2011.

Gamers who used their PSN account from January 1, 2011 through May 14, 2011, but then did not use it again until January 24, 2013 because of the hack, can receive “a payment equal to any balance of of paid virtual currency in your account wallet if that balance is at least U.S. $2.”

If the user “paid other companies for certain media services that you could not access through the PSN during the PSN outage from April 20 through May 14, 2011, you can get 3 free PS3 themes or a 50% discount on PlayStation Plus for 3 months.”

The settlement must be approved by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice before it is finalized.

Consumers who want to opt out of the proposed settlement have until May 20 to do so. Information on how to opt out is available at the official settlement website.

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