The release of the PlayStation 5 is just around the corner, but as is too often the case with such consumer products and associated services, few customers pay close enough attention to all terms and the user agreement attached to buying Sony’s latest console and using the PlayStation Network (PSN).
And while Playstation is doing a lot in the West to signal to customers that it supports human rights through a variety of issues (even this week throwing its support behind Black Lives Matter), the same can’t be said in China and the company’s refusal to stand up for the citizens of Hong Kong.
Bloggers have spotted some interesting changes and details in the Hong Kong version of the document, that will going forward affect gamers in the Chinese mainland market.
PlayStation Network is Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) digital media service now found not only on consoles, but also on the corporation’s phones, tablets, TVs, and other devices.
And from users who are either citizens or residents of the People’s Republic of China (mainland), the PSN Terms now specify that the service cannot be used for creating or publishing content that goes against the Chinese Constitution, or poses danger to the country’s security, sovereignty, state secrets, or challenges the rules Beijing has in place when it comes to religion, maintaining social order and stability, etc.
“For users with China Mainland as country/area of residence
You may not use your Account or use PSN in any way to create, reproduce, publish or disseminate any information which:
- opposes the basic principles in the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China (the “PRC”);
- endangers the security of the PRC, divulges PRC State secrets, or jeopardises the sovereignty and unification of the PRC;
- damages the honour and interests of the PRC;
- violates PRC policies on religion, or propagates heresies or superstition;
- disseminates rumours, disrupts social order, or undermines social stability;
- disseminates obscenity, pornography, gambling, violence, or instigates others to commit crimes;
- is prohibited by PRC laws, administrative regulations and other provisions.”
As to how Sony intends to implement these rules, the document states that SIE is not required to monitor or record its users’ online activity carried out via the PlayStation Network – unless, that is, “otherwise required by applicable law.”
If that wasn’t vague enough, the terms of service add that Sony reserves the right to monitor, record all activities and remove any content at its sole discretion and without any further notice – while users who sign the agreement grant this right to the company.
At the same time, Sony washes its hands off any possible future offenders (including children) before Chinese authorities, by declaring itself not legally liable for any violations of the terms contained in the agreement.
On the other hand, Sony – and unspecified third parties – will let PSN users share their personal information with others on the network, including real name, if displayed, online ID, activities, gameplay, and more.
General terms and conditions give Sony itself the right to collect and use personal information “to operate the PSN.”
In addition, Sony “may disclose your personal information to third-party service providers (including, without limitation, customer service providers, repair service providers, geolocation service providers, advertisers, insurers, lawyers, bankers and accountants and other third-party service providers who provide customer, product warranty, maintenance, administrative, telecommunications, postal, computer, payment or other services to us to enable us to operate our business) and other companies within the Sony group of companies.”