Use of Sony's online services, including the PlayStation Network (PSN), which was hacked to pieces a few months ago when digital thieves made off with millions of users' personal information, is now subject to terms and conditions that see you waiving your rights to collectively sue the company for any reason, including future security breaches.
Anyone taking issue with Sony in the future will be unable to take class action (which is when a group of people collectively sue), and instead will have to work with an arbitrator of Sony's choosing "on an individual basis" to resolve the problem, the BBC reports.
Like most terms of service, you won't be able to use Sony's services unless you agree to them, so PlayStation gamers will find themselves locked out of the PlayStation Network if they don't want to play by the new rules.
You can read through the legalese-heavy terms yourself if you like, but the important bit reads as follows, in a section titled 'Class Action Waiver':
"Any dispute resolution proceedings, whether in arbitration or court, will be conducted only on an individual basis and not in a class or representative action or as a named or unnamed member in a class, consolidated, representative or private attorney general
Why is Sony doing this? In April a class action lawsuit was filed against Sony after the catastrophic PSN data loss that could reportedly cost the company billions of dollars. These new rules won't apply to that lawsuit (or any class actions filed before 20 August, 2011), but they could stop users of Sony's services from taking class action in the future.
We'd bet our last Rolo that most users will hit the 'Agree' button without spotting the new terms, that could reduce your options if you ever wanted to sue Sony.
You can opt out of the waiver, but to do so you'll need to post (yeah, post) a letter to Sony's Los Angeles address, for the attention of the legal team. You've got to do so within 30 days, and the letter must contain your name, address, PSN account number (if you've got one) and a written statement that you "do not wish to resolve disputes with any Sony entity through arbitration."
We suspect the new terms and conditions are largely aimed at the US, because class action lawsuits are mainly an American phenomenon. Still, we're sure many gamers will be unhappy with the inclusion of these new rules.
Is it fair for Sony to stick this in its terms of service? Let us know in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.