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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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  • Oblig. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @01:13AM (#32883614)

    Yo dawg, I heard you like exposing your personal data

  • by ibsteve2u (1184603) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @01:18AM (#32883638)
    Like, "What is good for the rooster is good for the hen." doesn't translate into "What is good for the corporation is good for the consumer." worth a damn.

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

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Maestro4k (707634)

        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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by idontgno (624372)

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

        Boldly stated, Soilworker (795251) (email not shown publicly) [slashdot.org]

        • Yes I DECIDED that I don't show it here, if I send you something and you decide to post it here ( without anything illegal, like notice to spam me, or harassment) then there is nothing I can do about it, except asking you to stop, and even if I do that, you're don't even have to stop.

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      In this case, it's more of a fox and a hen. Namely latter seeking protection from former :)

      • 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.

        • And these people went complaining to the ESRB about privacy?

          They obviously didn't know who they were really dealing with, which is not surprising considering the ESRB has an interest in not making the facts you just stated well known.

          Or maybe they did and thought "This is a concern for me, so this might be a concern for the industry. Plus there's no way they're dumb enough to reveal my e-mail address, so it's safe to e-mail them about my privacy concerns, what harm could it do?"

          Even if they knew the ESRB was a whore for the game industry, it's not like saying "Hey,

          • by Moraelin (679338)

            Well, maybe not expect retribution, but the tech savvy needed to be a glorified rubberstamp office doesn't put the whole incident past what Hanlon's Razor adequately describes either.

            But at any rate, my point is more like: if you do expect them to be the whore of the industry, and a whore with no regulation power either at that, even if you don't expect them to lose your email, still... why bother? It's like writing to the boss's boytoy to complain about her business practices. You don't really expect him t

        • 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.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      "What is good for the corporation is good for the consumer" translates to "what is good for the lion is good for the lamb." The rooster-hen (goose-gander) is about equality, and there is no equality in dealings between a human and a corporation.

  • by Dyinobal (1427207)
    What a tech blunder by a group that's suppose to deal with rating video game content. Email fail.
    • by Mitsoid (837831)
      Technically this part of the ESRB is the web privacy section of the organization.

      (making sure businesses protect peoples privacy online)
  • Looks like they forgot about bcc. Whoops.
    • What's the first thing that you learn at ANY corporation when you start using company email? You never, EVER hit "reply all"!!!
      • by delinear (991444)
        Totally. I worked for a big FTSE100 company a few years back that was incredibly poorly managed, constant company re-organisations, people regularly being put on "consideration" (i.e. just to let you know, we're considering whether you'll have a job in three months), usually over christmas just to add to the fun, closing sites and moving people around the country, etc. A friend who still works there told me recently one of the developers who decided to leave in the last bout of restructuring wrote a long, n
  • 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.
    • Alternatively, industry says "Hey, you know what is bad for everyone (aside from vile politicians, idiotic talking heads on the radio and TV, holier than thou hypocrites, Jack Thompson, spiteful people who don't like games or gamers, people who hate free expression, sheep who would give up freedom based on the nonexistent threat of violent gamers, and other worthless individuals)? Government enforced censorship on an evolving media form. How can we prevent that?"

      For God's sake, you say "too cheap to pay o

  • They'll be alright if they've got nothing to hide! Think of the children!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kiddygrinder (605598)
      Absolutely, i have nothing to hide so i have no need for privacy. That's why i installed a webcam in my toilet!
  • In a not-so-surprising move the ESRB affirmed it's position on not giving a damn about the people or companies involved. The ESRB went onto say that we really don't care what you do as long you don't bother us and continue to fund our worthless existence.

    The ESRB representative declined to provide his identity on the grounds that he really didn't want to be bothered with wasting his breathe. He went on to further shout obscenities and shake his bum at those attempting to pose questions regarding the recent

  • 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 Maestro4k (707634)

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

      And their ability to deal with a technology industry like videogames is put into serious question. If they can't handle basic E-mail technology, how can they understand videogames?

  • best practices for protecting individuals' personal information online.

    In other words, anonymity.

    • by Zironic (1112127)

      When you press the big shiny button that says "If you press this big shiny button your name will be posted to the internets" then you've forsworn the protection of that piece of personal information. ESRB will only care if the company in question publishes the information without making so explicit to the user.

      • by delinear (991444)
        Do you think it would have bene a "big shiny button" or do you think, just maybe, they would have buried it away in 15 pages of click through terms?
  • Removing the cloak of anonymity from users, (no gaming pun intended) opens up a can of worms like S. Korea has with violence spilling over from inside the games to the streets. Posting people's information only sets up circumstances for some very bad scenarios to play out. The PvP server forums are often full of haters hating full tilt on each other. When is someone unstable going to get pushed too far and end up on someone's doorstep? When some horrible situation plays out on the evening news, BlizTard wil

    • by delinear (991444)
      Or maybe people wouldn't act like children in the first place if they thought there might be repercussions. Not that I agree with displaying people's names, but it would be an interesting experiment.
    • by OverlordQ (264228)

      When some horrible situation plays out on the evening news, BlizTard will end up sued down to foodstamps in a trailer park for liabilities.

      Or the better solution is to stop being a dick. If you're a dick 'IRL' then yes, somebody may beat your ass. So don't be a dick online and having your name out there wont matter.

      • by ae1294 (1547521)

        Or the better solution is to stop being a dick. If you're a dick 'IRL' then yes, somebody may beat your ass. So don't be a dick online and having your name out there wont matter.

        How about you go fuck yourself cupcake...

  • Seems reasonable to me. These people complained about privacy, so the ESRB removed their privacy. Isn't that what they wanted? Wait, you want me to do what, now? RTF...huh? :)

  • to play too, you know.
  • Used a standard, fake email address when I submitted my complaint. Though I just as easily could have used one of my inactive accounts.

    Maybe that makes my complaint less valid in their eyes, but it helps avoid situations like this for me whilst still allowing me to at least (have the illusion of?) have my voice heard.

  • They should have used Blind carbon copy [wikipedia.org] instead of regular carbon copy. ;)
  • I used to think they were a good measure to allow for a reasonable compromise between game companies and retailers without getting stringent political involvement. Now I say just let the government tear them a new one.
  • Kind of misleading (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) <marc.paradise@NOSpaM.gmail.com> 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 Deorus (811828)

      Reply to All doesn't mean "reply to everyone who ever sent you an E-mail", it means "reply to all the disclosed senders and recipients of the original message", which I'm sure was not comprised of all those E-mail addresses.

      • Fair point; but still I think my underlying point is valid -- they didn't actively publish this list anywhere. They exposed it via stupidity, and only to the people who gave them the information. Bad move? Sure. Worthy of crucifixion? Probably not.
  • thanks information

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