Hackers claiming to be those that have seriously disrupted Sony Pictures' computer systems in the biggest corporate hack in history posted a message to the heads of the company telling them to cancel the release of film The Interview .
The group also leaked a trove of emails from senior Sony Pictures employees which include private employee information, the phone numbers of actors and the aliases they use when travelling, film budgets and unreleased scripts. It includes the
private information of about 40,000 employees, including home addresses, previous salaries and social security numbers.
The Interview is a North Korea-baiting film that is a reason some have speculated that the country could be involved in the attack.
In a message titled Their Privacy , and written in broken English, hackers said that Sony had refused to give in to its demands to cancel the release of the movie of terrorism. The group signed themselves as From God'sApstls.
The message reads:
We have already given our clear demand to the management team of SONY, however, they have refused to accept.
It seems that you think everything will be well, if you find out the attacker, while no reacting to our demand.
We are sending you our warning again.
Do carry out our demand if you want to escape us.
And, Stop immediately showing the movie of terrorism which can break the regional peace and cause the War!
You, SONY & FBI, cannot find us.
We are perfect as much.
The destiny of SONY is totally up to the wise reaction & measure of SONY.
Update: Violent threats prove to be very effective at censorship
The New York premiere of The Interview, a comedy about the assassination of North Korea's president, has been cancelled amid threats from hackers. A spokesman for the cinema chain due to host the screening said it had been shelved. Hackers
targeting Sony Pictures had threatened to attack US cinemas showing the studio's film.
Calling themselves Guardians of Peace, the hackers mentioned the 9/11 attacks in a recent warning, claiming the world will be full of fear . Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places
at that time, the hacker group wrote in a message.
A spokesman for Landmark, the cinema chain due to host the New York premiere, confirmed the showing had been cancelled but gave no reason, Reuters news agency reported. Executives from Sony had previously said they would not object if cinemas
chose not to show The Interview.
Sony has bowed to the demands of North Korean-linked hackers and made the unprecedented step of pulling its film The Interview from cinemas. Sony announced the movie would not be released as planned in America on Christmas Day after
threats of violence by the hackers.
The decision was made after the five biggest cinema chains in the US, operating 20,000 screens between them, said they would not show the comedy, which centres on a plot to assassinate the secretive state's leader Kim Jong-un.
Sony said it had no further global release plans for the film - which had a scheduled UK release date of Feb 6, 2015.
US investigators said it had determined North Korea was behind the devastating cyber attack following weeks of speculation. President Barack Obama said his administration is taking the cyber attack against Sony studios seriously, but urged
cinemagoers not be cowed by the threats.
Many were quick to criticise Sony's decision, calling it a major blow for freedom of expression and warned it could set a dangerous precedent of censorship.
Offsite Comment: US weighs response to film threat
The White House is treating the cyberattack on Sony Pictures as a legitimate national security matter as the film studio deals with the fallout from its controversial decision to pull The Interview from theaters.
After Sony yanked North Korean satire The Interview from theaters, several small houses announced plans to show Team America - another film featuring a North Korean leader - in an attempt to spite the hermit regime.
However, Paramount Pictures has now put the kibosh on the screenings - sending out messages barring the cinemas from showing the movie.
One of the theaters, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema said;
Due to to circumstances beyond our control, the TEAM AMERICA 12/27 screening has been cancelled. We apologize & will provide refunds today.
Paramount however has yet to explain their decision to ban cinemas from showing the film.
Team America: World Police features the previous leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-il as a singing marionette that gets impaled on a spike and is later revealed to be a space alien North Korea called The Interview and act of war for
portraying the assassination and violent death of its current leader, Kim Jong-un.
Sony made a mistake by axing the comedy The Interview . Speaking after the FBI pinned the blame on North Korea for a massive hack of Sony Pictures, President Barack Obama said:
We cannot have a society in which some dictator some place can start imposing censorship here in the United States because if somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing when they see a
documentary that they don't like, or news reports that they don't like.
Or even worse imagine if producers and distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they don't want to offend the sensibilities of somebody whose sensibilities probably need to be offended.
That's not who we are. That's not what America is about.
Obama said he was sympathetic to Sony's plight but added: I wish they had spoken to me first.
Update: America makes a token gesture about free speech
In a plot reversal, Sony Pictures will allow The Interview to play in about 200 US cinemas as of Christmas Day, after coming under criticism from President Barack Obama for caving into pressure from North Korea
The Interview was put back into cinemas on Tuesday when Sony Pictures Entertainment announced a limited Christmas Day theatrical release for the comedy that provoked an international incident with North Korea and outrage over its cancelled
Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton that Seth Rogen's North Korea farce will be in a number of theaters beginning Thursday.
North Korea called President Barack Obama a monkey and blamed the US for shutting down its Internet amid the hacking row over the comedy The Interview. The country's powerful National Defense Commission, the country's top governing
body led by Kim Jong Un, said that Obama was behind the release of The Interview . It described the movie as illegal, dishonest and reactionary. A spokesman said:
Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest.
A coalition of civil liberties, publishing, and online commerce groups are asking Congress to oppose a piece of anti-speech, anti-sex work legislation known as as the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation (SAVE) Act.
The bill is supposedly aimed at thwarting human trafficking but in reality would create harsh new criminal liabilities for websites and publishers, allow federal agents to censor online ads, make it harder for adult sex workers of all sorts to
safely connect with customers, drive traffickers further underground, and potentially expose anyone advertising online to new privacy infringements.
In a November 12 letter to the U.S. Senate, nine organizations--including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Internet Commerce Coalition , the Electronic Frontier Foundation , the Association of Alternative News Media, and the National
Coalition Against Censorship--wrote to convey strong opposition to the SAVE Act.
The SAVE Act would do several things:
create extensive record-keeping requirements for any website, online services, and print publication that hosts adult advertisements,
require anyone posting an adult ad to submit photo identification,
enable the Department of Justice (DOJ) to ban certain euphemisms or code words from online advertising entirely, and
make websites that host user-generated ads criminally liable should any of those ads wind up promoting the sexual exploitation or abuse of a minor. Under the law, the operator of a website such as Craigslist that hosts thousands of new
user-uploaded ads daily could could face up to 10 years prison if any one of these is eventually linked to child sex trafficking.
The act would mean that websites and services hosting user-generated content could be held criminally liable even if they do not have actual knowledge that an ad for illegal activity appears on their sites.
Consequently, virtually any user-generated content host--like Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Amazon or various online dating sites--will have every incentive to prohibit content that falls under the bill's broad definition of adult advertisements,
which includes communications that are wholly or only partially devoted to proposing lawful commercial exchange for lawful services--in other words, speech that is unquestionably protected by the First Amendment. At best, user-generated content
sites will default to taking down content that is flagged as an adult advertisement as soon as a complaint is lodged, regardless of whether the content appears to be related to child trafficking or state child exploitation crimes, or even
fits the bill's definition of adult advertisement at all.
In addition, any website, online service, or print publication that hosts any content falling under the bill's definition as an adult advertisement would be required to obtain photo identification from anyone posting the content.
Rather than risk inadvertantly hosting an illegal ad without having obtained the proper identification, many sites would simply start requiring a government-issued photo ID in order to post all ads.
And perhaps most egregiously of all, the SAVE Act would empower the DOJ to ban the use of certain words in all online advertising. If the agency determined that something was a potential euphemism or code word for trafficking, web
operators, publishers, and digital ad networks would be forced to censor ads containing these words or phrases.
U.S. bank regulators tried to coerce and intimidate banks in an effort to force them to sever ties to the porn industry, a trade group says.
In a court filing this week, a trade group called the Third Party Payment Processors Association accused the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp of engaging in moralistic regulation over the banking industry,.
The Third Party Payment Processors Association, a trade group formed last year to represent payment firms, accused the FDIC of using the bank-examination process to coerce and intimidate banks into cutting off relationships with payment
processing firms that do business with porn merchants.
The FDIC has engaged in an improper practice of moralistic regulation of the banking industry, the legal brief says. The group wrote that regulators targeted the industry because they thought pornography was not good for consumers.