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Ex-Employees Sue Sony over Data Security Breach

The logo of Sony Corp and a Christmas tree are reflected on the company's 4K television set at the company's headquarters in Tokyo
Sony Pictures Entertainment has been sued by two self-described former employees who accuse the movie studio of failing to protect Social Security numbers, healthcare records, salaries and other data from computer hackers who attacked it last month, Reuters reported.

The proposed class action lawsuit against Sony Corp.’s studio was filed last Monday in federal court in Los Angeles. It alleges that the company failed to secure its computer network and protect confidential information.

“An epic nightmare, much better suited to a cinematic thriller than to real life, is unfolding in slow motion for Sony’s current and former employees, ” the lawsuit said.

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Sony is already reeling from the disclosures in documents released by the hackers, which have exposed internal discussions key to the company’s future to public scrutiny.

Reuters has not been able to verify the authenticity of the documents.

Data that the unidentified hackers have leaked online include home addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, performance evaluations and reasons for termination, the plaintiffs said.

The lawsuit seeks class action status on behalf of all former and current employees of Sony in the United States whose personally identifiable information was compromised in the breach.

The plaintiffs are asking for compensation for any damages as well as credit monitoring services, identity theft insurance and other assistance.

A Sony spokesman declined to comment.

While some data breach cases have settled, Marcia Hoffman, a San Francisco-based attorney who specializes in Internet law, said that she was not aware of any cases that went to trial and resulted in a judgment for the plaintiff.

“I’m not saying it could never happen. I’m saying this is a pretty cutting edge, novel complaint, ” she said.

The suit against Sony was ultimately spurred by the movie “The Interview, ” despite that the two ex-employees were not part of the project. Michael Corona left the company in 2007 and Christina Mathis has been gone for over a decade. Nevertheless, both claim that the data breach exposed private information about them, costing them hundreds of dollars in identity theft protection, among other grievances, legal trend analysis website JD Journal said.

Corona and Mathis hope other former and current employees join their effort, seeking damages of at least $1, 000 per person. They also want five years of credit and bank monitoring, as well as identity theft insurance, according to the report.

In its analysis, “it is becoming clear that making movies, or running a company at all, in today’s cultural climate, means entering a state of war in which employees must be protected from becoming casualties, ” JD Journal said.

In another development, Sony has threatened to sue Twitter if it doesn’t ban the accounts that keep posting internal emails that have been leaked by its hackers, Engadget daily said. It also said Sony will “hold Twitter responsible for any damage or loss arising from such use or dissemination by Twitter.”




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