Playstation 2 gets its passport yanked

— 12:14 AM on April 17, 2000

Sony just keeps having its problems with the Playstation 2; while most of them have been technical in nature (region-free DVD playback, bypassing DVD copy protection), now a legal problem has come up as well. This article reveals that Sony's new wunderbox falls under a trade law intended to prevent the export of computer hardware with potential military uses. It seems that the PSX 2 has so much pixel pumping ability that it could in theory be used as the targeting system for a missile, for example. Apparently the Japanese trade ministry has to sign off on it before it can be exported in quantity.

There is, of course, another way to interpret this. It's plain that Sony doesn't want PSX 2's leaving Japan; they've gone so far as to put warning labels on the boxes stating that export is not allowed (under a different law). A hard-hitting law intended to curb the export of potential military hardware could presumably have some stiff penalties, though the article doesn't discuss that aspect. What if such a move is intended to keep PSX 2's in Japan until the official dates of the U.S. and European launches, by intimidating potential exporters with stiff penalties? It will be interesting to see if trade ministry approval comes shortly before the PSX 2 is due to arrive on our shores. Wouldn't that be convenient? Time will tell.

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