Sony loses motion to dismiss lawsuit over employee data breach

On June 15, a federal judge refused to agree to a request by Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. to dismiss a lawsuit that some of its former employees had filed over a computer hack related to the release of “The Interview” in 2014. Maryland moviegoers and entertainment buffs probably remember the comedy being released in November after a huge controversy involving North Korea.

In “The Interview,” Seth Rogen plays the part of an ordinary-guy-turned-spy whom the CIA sends to North Korea, along with his friend, to assassinate Kim Jong Un. The country was unhappy with the film, and U.S. officials blamed its hackers for the cyber attack on Sony because of the anger that was stirred. The hack made Sony initially cancel releasing the film because it destroyed company data and exposed Hollywood secrets.

On Dec. 8, 2014, Sony sent a letter to its employees to explain that their private information might have been stolen, including Social Security and driver’s license numbers, health data, credit card information and salary details. Some racial emails were also released.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs accused the company of negligence by failing to maintain sufficient security to prevent hackers from breaching its computers and releasing sensitive information. Sony argued that it made a business decision not to pay for strong security following other computer hacks. The judge refused to drop the case on that merit. However, the judge did dismiss some of the claims in the filing, including one relating to breach of contract.

Keeping business computers as secure as possible is meant to protect not only the personal data of employees and customers but also the trade secrets of business owners. Businesses that believe their employees’ personal details or their trade secrets were stolen could build cases and file lawsuits against the guilty parties with the help of business litigation attorneys.

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