Sony Pictures to Pay up to $8 Million over Employees’ Personal Data Lost
Sony Pictures Entertainment has agreed to pay up to $8 million over employees’ personal data lost in the 2014 hacking scandal surrounding the release of The Interview movie.
Hackers had broken into Sony computers and released thousands of items of personal information in an attempt to derail the release of the North Korea-themed comedy.
Sony employees argued they suffered economic harm from the stolen data.
US investigators have blamed North Korean hackers for the attack.
The cyber attack wiped out massive amounts of data and led to the online distribution of emails, personal and sensitive employee data as well as pirated copies of new movies.
The lawsuit against the company was filed by former employees claiming Sony’s negligence caused them economic harm by forcing them to step up credit monitoring to address their increased risk of identity theft. They described the data breach as an “epic nightmare.”
The Interview depicted the fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The cyber-attack drew widespread international attention and Sony subsequently stopped the movie’s general release.
An unknown group calling itself #GOP – later identified as Guardians of Peace – claimed it was behind the attack, prompting the FBI to launch an investigation.
North Korea dismissed any suggestion it may have had a hand in the attack as a form of retaliation for Sony’s release of The Interview. A North Korean foreign ministry spokesman had earlier called the movie an “act of terrorism”, promising “merciless” retaliation if it was released.
The Interview eventually received a much smaller release and was offered through legal digital downloads.
The settlement with a US District Court in Los Angeles still needs to be approved by a judge but it sees Sony paying pay up to $8 million to reimburse current and former employees for losses, preventative measures and legal fees related to the hack of its computers in 2014.
Under the agreement, Sony Entertainment will pay up to $10,000 a person, capped at $2.5 million, to reimburse employees for identity theft losses, up to $1,000 each to cover the cost of credit-fraud protection services, capped at $2 million, and up to $3.5 million to cover legal fees.
Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton called the agreement “an important, positive step forward in putting the cyber-attack firmly behind us”.
The court had dismissed Sony’s initial attempt to stops the court case, confirming that the employees could pursue their claims that the company was negligent and violated a California confidentiality law.