ESRB Blows the Privacy of Privacy Complainers - UPDATED

ESRB Blows the Privacy of Privacy Complainers - UPDATED

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In what can only be described as a stunningly ironic twist of fate, the ESRB has accidentally revealed the email addresses of nearly 1000 people who filed complaints about Blizzard's Real ID system.

We should all know by now about Real ID, Blizzard's plan to bring order to the chaos of its forums by forcing people who post messages to do so using their real names. Backlash against the plan was swift and sure, and Blizzard has since backed off on the idea, but before it did an awful lot of people decided to take their complaints to the Entertainment Software Rating Board, an influential industry body that actually maintains a Privacy Online program.

Like any good, conscientious agency, the ESRB followed up on the matter once Blizzard announced its decision to put the brakes on the fiasco. It wrote an email to everyone who had contacted it regarding Real ID, informing them that the forum policy had been dropped and inviting them to "direct any further inquiries you may have regarding online privacy to our attention." And then, apparently, it clicked the "Reply All" button.

This, for the benefit of readers unfamiliar with the intricate workings of email (like, say, those of you who work at the ESRB) had the unfortunate side effect of plastering every email address being responded to - nearly 1000 in all - on every email sent out. In other words, whatever address you used to contact the ESRB has now been fired out to random people across the internet about a thousand times.

The irony is moist and delicious, although probably not nearly as hilarious to people caught up in it as it is to those of us who get to stand on the sidelines and watch it whiz by. In the ESRB's defense, this was obviously an honest mistake, committed with the best of intentions, but that doesn't change the awkwardness of the situation. If you're going to present yourself as "Privacy Certified," then you really need to be careful when you're dealing with matters of, you know... privacy.

Source: WoW.com

UPDATE: The ESRB has released a statement addressing the erroneous breach of privacy. "In our effort to respond quickly to the thousands of gamers who wrote to the ESRB, we inadvertently revealed a limited number of recipients' e-mail addresses in our reply," said ESRB Director of Communications Eliot Mizrachi. "This was both unfortunate and regrettable, and for that we sincerely apologize to all those who were affected. They deserve to trust that their information will be handled with the same confidentiality, care and respect that we require of companies that display our Privacy Online seal. We take this issue seriously and are doing everything we can to ensure it does not happen again in the future."

A follow-up email has also been sent out, explaining and apologizing for the situation.

Yesterday we sent an e-mail to a number of consumers who wrote to us in recent days expressing their concern with respect to Blizzard's Real ID program. Given the large number of messages we received, we decided to respond with a mass e-mail so those who'd written us would receive our response as quickly as possible - rather than responding to each message individually, as is our usual practice.

Through an unfortunate error by one of our employees, some recipients were able to see the e-mail addresses of others who wrote on the same issue. Needless to say, it was never our intention to reveal this information and for that we are genuinely sorry. Those who write to ESRB to express their views expect and deserve to have their contact and personal information protected. In this case, we failed to do so and are doing everything we can to ensure it will not happen again in the future.

The fact that our message addressed individuals' concerns with respect to their privacy underscores how truly disappointing a mistake this was on our part. We work with companies to ensure they are handling people's private information with confidentiality, care and respect. It is only right that we set a good example and do no less ourselves.

We sincerely apologize to those who were affected by this error and appreciate their understanding.

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the irony is delicious

and crunchy

If I didn't know better, I'd slap a Picard facepalm here.

Don't worry though, I do :P

This, this is just epic, it's hilarious

Can't. Stop. Facepalming!

Yummy yummy irony with a side order of EPIC FACEPALM!

Okay, I admit it I laughed IRL and I probably shouldn't have.

The only thing that could make this more epic was if they did it again while issuing apologies. >:)

... that was a laugh out loud well deserved.

Wow...I gueass people really, REALLY didnt want it...

But what an awesome irony this is!

Despite their emails bieng leaked, I somehow doubt anyone is on their way to murder them.....

The use of words expressing something other than their literal intention.

Now that is irony!

Reply All is the Hitler of buttons. No good can come of it whatsoever.

Though it does make for hilarious situations such as this.

Privacy Policy Violation Jutsu !!!

And the people they're replying to are people who wrote in to complain about their concerns about privacy over Real ID.

In other words, the people whose privacy they've violated are people who demonstrated a concern about having their privacy violated.

On another note, does anyone else find it odd that, out of the millions of WoW accounts, the number of people who complained to the ESRB and were apparently replied to was less than a thousand? I would've expected that number to be a lot higher. Unless this was one email out of dozens, crafted more-or-less by hand, and someone dragged this batch of recipients into the "To" field instead of the "Bcc" by accident...

Disasters caused by absented-mindedness when sending emails are shockingly common, apparently. Everyone seems to have a story of this kind of thing happening.

Few are as deliciously ironic as this one though.

CyberKnight:
And the people they're replying to are people who wrote in to complain about their concerns about privacy over Real ID.

In other words, the people whose privacy they've violated are people who demonstrated a concern about having their privacy violated.

On another note, does anyone else find it odd that, out of the millions of WoW accounts, the number of people who complained to the ESRB and were apparently replied to was less than a thousand? I would've expected that number to be a lot higher. Unless this was one email out of dozens, crafted more-or-less by hand, and someone dragged this batch of recipients into the "To" field instead of the "Bcc" by accident...

To be honest the hype around this topic was utterly pathetic. Forum Real ID? Woah, CNN GO!

bad rider:
Despite their emails bieng leaked, I somehow doubt anyone is on their way to murder them.....

How can you say that? It's a major security leak! These people will now be stalked, harassed, raped and murdered.

Well, the good news is all the people who reported this were the good, clean, "normal" people who didn't want creepers stalking them, so they probably won't take advantage of each other.

Surely no one opposed to RealID would have been such creepers...?

Right?

tautologico:

bad rider:
Despite their emails bieng leaked, I somehow doubt anyone is on their way to murder them.....

How can you say that? It's a major security leak! These people will now be stalked, harassed, raped and murdered.

Which is incredibly incredibly funny.

Let's hope no one on that list goes to 4chan, or they'll all be set for tentacle porn for life.

CyberKnight:
On another note, does anyone else find it odd that, out of the millions of WoW accounts, the number of people who complained to the ESRB and were apparently replied to was less than a thousand?

Your "batch" theory might have something to do with it.

My theory is that of those millions of accounts, only a very very small amount are people active in the community, and who actually care about RealID. Allow me to demonstrate with brackets.

{All Wow Accounts...(WoW Accounts Actually Played Frequently...[Those who know of the Forums at all..."Those Who Use the Forums...<WoW Forum Goers Who Actually Post...|WoW Posters who even knew or cared about RealID.../Those who opposed...*those who bothered to report*\|>"])}

It is the vocal minority. Yes, the threads were endless against it. Still beans compared to the entire user base.

I wouldn't have minded so much, but I didn't really have a need for it either.

This irony is so good I can almost taste it.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Oh, sorry. I guess my post should have more sustinance than laughing

...

...

BWAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!

-Excuse me sir, did you order "the sea of facepalm"?
-Indeed I did.
-Your big fat irony steak is here.
*Cuts off a piece and tastes*
-Oh, yes, my complements to the chefs.
*With a smile the waiter waves at the 1000 idiots who clicked the button, and ESRB.*

This topic just made my day.

This is the perfect place for that Picard picture isn't it?

 

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