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PlayStation Network hack knocks service out "indefinitely"

Six days ago, the PlayStation Network went down. Although some users can manage to get Netflix and other services to work, video gaming online continues to be a lost cause.

As soon as PSN flickered out, rumors began circling that the outage had been caused by the most notorious of all internet griefers: Anonymous. And, indeed, Anonymous has claimed that "it could be the case that other Anons have acted by themselves," but the organization as a whole -- such as that is -- doesn't take credit for the job.

But Anonymous does have a beef with Sony: It's no secret they are still pissed about Sony's lawsuit against hacker George Hotz. Hotz posted information online on how to hack the PS3's system memory, much to Sony's chagrin; the settlement ended with Hotz pulling the info and paying $10K per violation. Anomyous has been staging protests at Sony stores all over the world in response to the lawsuit's outcome.

Now, just to add to the tinhattery of the situation, some portion of Anonymous allege that Sony crashed its own systems and is blaming it on Anonymous: "Sony is taking advantage of Anonymous' previous ill-will towards the company to distract users from the fact that the outage is actually an internal problem with the company's servers."

But the PSN problems weren't caused by Sony's servers. Although Sony did purposefully pull the plug on PSN, the company did so because hackers had essentially installed a backdoor in Sony's servers that would let users steal games and videos. Sony couldn't just sit around and watch users pillage their wares, so PSN is down until Sony fixes this issue.

No matter what "higher ideals" these hackers tell themselves they aspire to, they broke PSN for the rest of us while trying to steal game developers' hard work. When the Network first went down six days ago, Sony issued apologies explaining it might be down "for days." Today, Sony issued a statement saying PSN would be down "indefinitely," and that credit card information could be compromised as well. I guess we're lucky that these hackers are noble souls who only want to make games and system memories free and accessible to everybody, and so they wouldn't steal anybody's credit card numbers, right? You better fucking hope so.

I don't blame Anonymous for trying to disassociate itself (themselves?) from this mess, but it would probably help if the comments from Facebook fans on their page didn't keep congratulating them, defending them, and writing messages like "Hacking is not bad, and never have been [sic]" and "Sony brought it on themselves completely." Even if Anonymous doesn't officially claim credit for the hack -- whatever "official" means when Anonymous is concerned -- it's a no-brainer that the culprits must consider themselves to be part of Anonymous, or at least be associated with previous Anonymous supporters of George Hotz.

Sony and other console makers design consoles that prevent gamers from playing homebrewed video games, but hackers want the right to do whatever they want with their systems after they buy them. That makes some sense, until you realize hackers "jailbreak" their consoles mostly to play pirated games on them. Meanwhile, the hackers responsible for the current PSN outage had been attempting to let users steal games. If being pro-hacker means being against paying game developers for their hard work, then I can't support this movement in good conscience. The arguments here aren't dissimilar to those made about music piracy and movie piracy, and I've heard them all before. So have you. I believe artists should get paid for their work, and games are no exception.

Meanwhile, gamers in general aren't even thinking about this issue from a moral or political standpoint. Most of us are just pissed that hackers prevented us from playing Portal 2 co-op and Mortal Kombat online. Perhaps these hackers should have targeted Sony more directly, rather than in a way that wound up hurting PSN users. That might have garnered more support from gamers who aren't as familiar with the pro-hacker movement. I can understand why gamers would want to avoid paying for video games. Who doesn't want free stuff? It will work perfectly, until the video game industry collapses, because console and game developers have to eat - and can't work for free.

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