A GiantBomb report claims that, even though you may have agreed to the new PlayStation Network Terms of Service recently, there may still be an option to allow an opt-out. In a nutshell, the new ToS asks users to agree to not sue the company as part of a class action, and requires that you agree to it to gain entry to the network. The paragraph in question from section #15 of the ToS:
"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 legal action, unless both you and the Sony entity with which you have a dispute specifically agree to do so in writing following initiation of the arbitration. This provision does not preclude your participation as a member in a class action filed on or before August 20, 2011."
It turns out that buried within the updated ToS is an opt-out, but it gives users 30 days from the date they agreed to the new Terms of Service to jump through the hoops necessary to retain their rights (you have to mail Sony a letter). GiantBomb has created a form letter and offers the mailing address of the company should you want to retain those rights. Clearly millions of PSN users will lose their rights because they don't know any better.
GiantBomb talked with Washington attorney Thomas Buscaglia, better known by our circles as "The Game Attorney," to get some insight on the legalities of the new Terms of Service:
"This is certainly not standard practice by any standards…in fact it may well not be enforceable," said Buscaglia. "Time will tell on that one. The US Federal Trade Commission and various state consumer protection agencies could have a problem with it. Also, some courts might not allow it to be enforced due to existing state court precedent."
It will be interesting to see if the way Sony handled this new terms of service can stand up in court. It certainly would have a hard time in regions such as the UK and Australia where there are clearly defined laws against such anti-consumer behavior.
In the interim, you should visit GiantBomb read the instructions, print and fill out the form letter they have created, and mail it to Sony as soon as possible. Even if you are unlikely to be involved in a class action against the company, it's still a good idea to show them that you as a consumer are paying attention to what they are trying to do.