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ESRB unintentionally exposes email addresses of people who filed complaints over Blizzard's Real ID system [Updated]

Update: The ESRB has since issued an apology.

During the recent Real ID catastrophe on the forums, many players decided to appeal to an industry source that might have been able to sway Blizzard to change its mind. These players contacted the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) as a Better Business Bureau-type middleman in this situation with their concerns. The ESRB itself has championed such causes in the past with its Privacy Online program, which is designed to help companies meet various privacy laws like the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

Since Blizzard recanted its decision about the forums, the ESRB faithfully followed up with those concerned.

Unfortunately, in that followup email, the ESRB exposed individuals to a new set of privacy concerns.

The letter and more information after the break.

The email reads as follows:
Thank you for contacting the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) regarding the policy recently announced by Blizzard Entertainment which would have required participants in its official forums to post comments using their real first and last names, and for expressing your concerns regarding potential privacy implications.

It is our understanding that Blizzard has provided an update announcing that it will not be implementing the above-referenced policy with respect to its forums, and users will not be required to post using their real names. You can read Blizzard's announcement regarding this most recent development at http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=25968987278&sid=1&pageNo=1.

Separately, if you have questions regarding Blizzard's implementation of its Real ID option -- which by our understanding is unrelated to Blizzard's plans for its forums -- and/or the new capabilities this option offers, they will likely be answered by reviewing the information posted at http://www.battle.net/realid/.

ESRB, through its Privacy Online program, helps companies develop practices to safeguard users' personal information online while still providing a safe and enjoyable video game experience for all. We appreciate your taking the time to contact us with your concerns, and please feel free to direct any future inquiries you may have regarding online privacy to our attention.

Regards,

Entertainment Software Rating Board
However, it appears as if the ESRB don't necessarily understand the basics themselves. In what could be called a rookie mistake, the ESRB did a Reply All to everyone who had emailed them with concerns, thus unintentionally exposing almost 1,000 email addresses to the other recipients.

I'm sure the irony of the last paragraph in the ESRB's letter isn't lost on anyone.

Filed under: News items, Account Security

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