In case you thought the age of discovery was over, Wired’s Threat Level blog is reporting that a 21-year-old hacker George Hotz who released the PlayStation 3 jailbreak has been ordered to surrender
any and all computer hardware and peripherals containing circumvention devices, technologies, programs, parts thereof, or other unlawful material, including but not limited to code and software, hard disc drives, computer software, inventory of CD-ROMS, computer diskettes, or other material containing circumvention devices, technologies, programs, parts thereof, or other unlawful material.
As Hotz lawyer put it,
The information sought at issue [the jailbreak code] is less than 100 kilobytes of data. Mr. Hotz has terabytes of storage devices….Impounding his computers, it’s like starting a forest fire to cut down a single tree.
Though the court’s order does seem like overkill, it is unfortunately a typically broad discovery request. Sony may simply be trying to harass Hotz and/or hamper any future work, a theory especially plausible insofar as the court also ordered that Hotz “shall retrieve” the jailbreak he posted. Given the number of websites that have re-posted Hotz’s original code, this would seem to be impossible. As Hotz’s lawyer rather cogently quipped, ““Mr. Hotz can’t retrieve the internet.”
Wired has posted the judge’s order here (PDF).