Sony Threatens to Sue Twitter Unless It Removes Tweets Containing Hacked Emails

Sony will sue if “stolen information continues to be disseminated by Twitter in any manner.”

Dec 22 2014, 10:33pm

​Image: 360b/Shutterstock

Sony's battle on people disseminating its hacked and leaked emails has extended from news outlets to random Twitter users to, now, Twitter itself. Sony's lawyer has threatened Twitter with legal action if the social networking company doesn't ban accounts that are sharing the leaks, according to emails obtained by Motherboard.

The letter—sent from David Boies, the lawyer Sony has hired to help guide it through the aftermath of the hack, to Vijaya Gadde, Twitter's general counsel—says that if "stolen information continues to be disseminated by Twitter in any manner," Sony will "hold Twitter responsible for any damage or loss arising from such use or dissemination by Twitter."

In the letter, Sony asked that Twitter share the legal threat with Val Broeksmit, a musician who has been posting screenshots of hacked Sony emails on Twitter. Broeksmit then forwarded the email to me. Twitter's legal department told Broeksmit, who tweets from the account @bikinrobotarmy, that it "cannot provide legal advice. You may wish to contact your own attorney about this matter."

Sony demanded that Twitter "comply with all future requests with regard to any other account holder seeking to disseminate the Stolen Information via Twitter. In addition, we ask that you provide the Account Holder with a copy of this letter, and request that the Account Holder cease publication of the Stolen Information on Twitter."

A spokesperson for Twitter confirmed that the letter is authentic but declined to specifically comment about the company's response. When asked whether the company would be deleting Broeksmit's tweets, the spokesperson noted that, right now, the tweets are still live on the site.

The letter Sony sent Twitter is much like the letter Sony sent to Broeksmit, which was also similar to notices sent to journalists reporting on the information contained in the Sony hacks.

"SPE does not consent to Twitter's or any Twitter account holder's possession, review, copying, dissemination, publication, uploading, downloading, or making any use of the Stolen Information, and to request your cooperation in suspending the Account Holder's Twitter account and the account of any other user seeking to disseminate the Stolen Information via Twitter," the email said.

Earlier today, a Twitter spokesperson told me that the social media network doesn't allow the posting of another person's private information, but that it does allow linking to such information.

"We review all reported content against our  rules, which prohibit posting another person's private information. Please note that this only applies to content (text or images) posted within a tweet; we do not follow links to apply our rules to other sites. If a user or company (e.g., Sony) submits an actionable DMCA takedown request to us, we'll disclose that to Chilling Effects," the spokesperson said, referring to a website designed to catalog government and company social media takedown requests.

The letter sent from Boies to Twitter is not a DMCA takedown request, however—it appears to be a pure legal threat. We've reached out to Sony and will update this post if we hear back.

Sony Letter to Twitter