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ESRB Exposes Emails of Gamers Who Filed Privacy Complaints 75

Posted by Soulskill
from the well-played dept.
simrook writes, "Many people filed privacy complaints with the ESRB over Blizzard's recent (and afterward recanted) move to require the display of users' real life names on Blizzard's official forums. 961 of those complainants had their email addresses exposed in the ESRB's response." The response itself didn't go into the organization's thoughts on Blizzard's plan, but they explained to the Opposable Thumbs blog that anonymity isn't a huge concern to them, as long as users are given the opportunity to opt out. "The role of the ESRB Privacy Online program is to make sure that member websites—those that display our seal on their pages — are compliant with an increasingly complex series of privacy protection laws and are offering a secure space for users to interact and do business online. ... But online privacy protection doesn't necessarily mean the same thing as anonymity. It's about making sure that websites collecting personal information from users are doing so not only in accordance with federal regulations but also with best practices for protecting individuals' personal information online."
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ESRB Exposes Emails of Gamers Who Filed Privacy Complaints

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  • by rsborg (111459) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @01:25AM (#32883688) Homepage
    Industry: I want regulatory capture [wikimedia.org], but I'm too cheap to even pay off politicians on a regular basis... I know, how about I tell the politicians and public that we can "police ourselves" and create a (not really) autonomous, "self regulatory" board where only the meaningless crap can be discussed and Industry gets to do what they want on substantive measures.
  • Well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KarlIsNotMyName (1529477) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @02:19AM (#32883956)

    The value of being "Privacy Certified" by the ESRB just went to zero.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @02:58AM (#32884130)

    Different AC.

    An e-mail address is only as public as you make it.

    Just because I send an email to person/corporation X, it doesn't mean I've added it to a fucking yellow pages directory. (Which is what you're essentially doing when it's being plastered on a webpage, etc)

  • by Maestro4k (707634) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @04:12AM (#32884412) Journal

    Anyway, it's just a e-mail address, it's public.

    It's as public as YOU make it. Those people opted to share their E-mail address with ESRB, NOT with those other 900+ people they've probably never heard of before.

    Not to mention that this probably violated the ESRB's own privacy policy, in the process of talking about how companies should... obey their privacy policies.

  • Not really (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moraelin (679338) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @05:16AM (#32884704) Journal

    Actually, it strikes me more like some hens going to the foxes' own self-regulating organization to complain that a fox is harassing them. And being told basically that none of the foxes on the commission sees a problem with what that, and furthermore oops, here's where one can find the hens that complained.

    The ESRB isn't some government agency, nor even some really independent group, but the game industry's own attempt at saying, "wait, we don't need no stinking government giving ratings for our games, we can do it ourselves." It's main reason to exist is as some organization who won't give an AO rating when the publisher doesn't want one, because WalMart doesn't carry AO games. Whereas a government agency might actually do such nasty things as actually slap an AO rating on a couple of games.

    And even if you want to think they're still somehow independent, the fact still remains that they have no legal power or anything. Getting an ESRB rating is entirely voluntary. They rely on the major publishers actually being arsed to submit their games to them instead of getting together to make another rating agency. Or just deciding that a government agency wouldn't be that much worse after all. (The promise of a well paid honorary advisory job after a few years of bending over for the right folks, has worked wonders to buy government bureaucrats in other domains, after all.) Or they might just use the PEGI ratings they get in Europe in the USA too, since they have to go through with those anyway. It might even help their cause if they can pull that stunt off, since seeing tits is ok here at earlier ages.

    And doubly so since we're not talking an indie market with lots of small publishers, where one breaking front would just hurt itself. We're talking a market dominated by a few big names who are so important not to lose, that even console manufacturers or major reviews sites bend over backwards to accomodate them. Ask for example Sega how well getting into a pissing contest with EA and giving "we don't need no stinking EA games" speeches worked for them back in the Dreamcast days. You don't even need to lose more than 1 or 2 of the biggest ones for the ESRB to become basically irrelevant.

    At any rate, the ESRB has nothing to gain by helping _you_ against Vivendi, and everything to lose if it makes itself hated by the likes of Vivendi.

    And these people went complaining to the ESRB about privacy? This strikes me as... well, not _exactly_ like going to the RIAA to complain about Sony's lawsuits, but not very far off that mark anyway.

  • Re:Not really (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @08:57AM (#32885862) Homepage Journal

    The ESRB is gaming's equivalent to movies' MPAA. Both have ratings that often seem bizarre, and neither is accountable to anyone but the big players in the industries they represent. I'd rather ratihngs for both be done by government, so they would be accountable to me. I at least have a vote in who is in government, I have no vote with MPAA or ESRB.

  • Kind of misleading (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {esidarap.cram}> on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @09:10AM (#32885996) Homepage Journal
    By "exposing the address" they mean "reply-to-all-without-bcc" and not "posted to a public Internet location". In other words, it's the same mistake that office workers around the world make every day.
  • by eyrieowl (881195) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @04:49PM (#32892868)

    Your ability to disseminate my email after I've told you what it is does not make my email public. It simply means that sending it to someone unscrupulous (hope you recognize yourself) is unwise, and puts me at risk of having it made public. After you've made it public? Yes, it's public. But it's not inherently public simply because the risk exists. Risk of being made public. Fact of being public. Not the same thing.

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