TOKYO (MarketWatch) — Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. was aware in late April that the data breach of its PlayStation Network services was in fact massive but only announced that some information may have been leaked, Kyodo News reported Wednesday, citing a document revealed by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
This raises suspicion that the game unit of Sony Corp. (6758.TO) deliberately attempted to downplay the seriousness of the situation by not fully disclosing information. The Japanese game giant has already been criticized by U.S. Congress for its slow initial response to the incident.
The document comprised of a chronology of events submitted by SCE to the ministry and was dated May 6. It showed that SCE confirmed on April 25, U.S. time, a “fairly large amount of data” was compromised in an illegal intrusion into its systems, although it was unable to determine specifically whose or what kind of personal information of its registered users was leaked.
In a press release issued the following day, however, SCE only said it “cannot rule out the possibility” that some of its customer account information had been breached, Kyodo reported.
Furthermore, SCE President Kazuo Hirai said in a news conference held May 1 that the company learned of the possibility of the breach on April 26, U.S. time, in contradiction to what it told the ministry. Hirai doubles as Sony Corp.’s executive vice president.
In the entry for April 25, SCE also said in the document it was concerned that disclosing information while an assessment of the situation was still ongoing would unnecessarily create confusion among its customers.
“We hadn’t figured out (at that time) what kind of data had been leaked,” an SCE spokesman said. “If only passwords and IDs (were breached), they cannot be considered personal information, and so we didn’t want to bewilder our customers.”
The data breach involved more than 100 million accounts, mainly of the PlayStation gaming systems, forcing Sony to suspend the online services for about a month.
The document was made available by the ministry after a freedom of information request filed by Kyodo News.