Online ‘hacktivist’ collective Anonymous forced the closure of Sony shops across Europe on Saturday – but organisers of the threatened ‘Op Sony’ high-street boycott were left red-faced after few members of the loose-knit organisation turned out to protest.
Anonymous members last week threatened the company with “the biggest attack you have ever witnessed”, while organisers called upon supporters to return Sony products and generally make a nuisance of themselves at Sony centres on the 16th and 17th. By the weekend, the group had attracted more than 2,400 replies to its Facebook page (requires login).
The calls followed distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on prominent Sony sites – including the company’s PlayStation Network. Soon after, the group “temporarily suspended” action against PSN, stating that its gripe was with Sony and not its customers.
Anonymous’s ‘Op Sony’ campaign began in response to the arrest and legal action by Sony against a number of people for opening up Sony’s PlayStation 3 gaming console to third-party firmware. Last week, Sony dropped its case against 21-year-old US hacker George Hotz, known as GeoHot, after securing an injunction to prevent him indulging in the same antics again.
In the event, it seems few turned out to support the protests – though, according to a report on PlayStation fan site PSGroove, Sony took the precaution of closing a number of stores, including those in Manchester, Leeds and the Polish city of Wroclaw.
The site posted pictures of police guards on duty outside the shops, and reports that shoppers were greeted with notices saying, "We are sorry the Sony Centre is closed"; "We will be open as soon as possible" and "Closed due to unforeseen circumstances".
Undeterred, the authors of the ‘Op Sony’ Facebook page have vowed to continue their protest, declaring:
"Sony closed UK stores during protests on Saturday. The fight for the fair consumer rights goes on. There will be another protest date. This movement does not end here."