The ESRB certifies anyone these days…

Some gems from Blizzard’s privacy policy, as certified by the ESRB:

Blizzard Entertainment and its affiliate companies (collectively “Blizzard”) respect the privacy of its on-line visitors and recognize the importance of providing a secure environment for them.

Great start. We’re off to a good one.

Blizzard Entertainment adheres to the Safe Harbor Principles that were established by the U.S. Department of Commerce in consultation with the European Commission to comply with the European Commission’s Directive on Data Protection that went into effect in October 1998.

Not really. at the very least, once the proposed changes go live, I imagine Blizzard would be breaching the third Principle: “Onward Transfer – Transfers of data to third parties may only occur to other organizations that follow adequate data protection principles.”. IANAL, though. You can read about the Principles here.

It gets better.

Not strictly relevant, but I just wanted to give them brownie points for the wording of this bit:

What personal information is collected?

Personal information collected may include your name, home address, phone number, and/or e-mail address. We do not require this information to gain access to our sites, however, you will not be able to utilize certain products, services, or features that require registration or receive materials such as newsletters unless such information is provided.

Maybe it’s early and I’m just blinded by the clarity on this. Maybe it’s me. Anyway, moving on…

How do we use your personal information?

The personal information you provide Blizzard will allow us to fulfill your product or service order; alert you of new products or services, features, or enhancements; handle/route your customer service or technical support questions or issues; to send eCards or “Recruit-a-Friend” emails; and/or notify you of upgrade opportunities, contests, promotions, or special events and offers.

Nowhere does it say “to access the forums”, but it’s a minor point.

Blizzard may enhance or merge the personal information collected at a Blizzard site with data from third parties. Blizzard may also provide your personal information to other companies or organizations that offer products or services that may be of interest to you. In such cases, we will notify you that the information will be shared and provide you with an opportunity to opt-out.

There is no opt-out of Real ID for the forums, as of yet. Well, unless you interpret a blue saying “You have the option not to post” as your opt-out. What a strange game. The best move is not to play.

Who is collecting your information?

When you are asked for information while on a Blizzard site, you are sharing that information with Blizzard, its parent, and its various affiliates and sister companies, unless specifically stated otherwise. As a result of this sharing, you may receive communications from any of Blizzard’s affiliates. In addition, some services are provided in conjunction with partner companies. If your personal information is being collected by another company other than Blizzard, you will be notified at the time the information is collected. If you do not want your information shared, you can choose not to allow the transfer of information by not using that particular service or by not providing any information at that time.

Ah, there’s the opt-out. Kind of. Sort of. It’s not really a proper opt-out, but hey. It fails to mention that if you do not provide the information, you cannot use the service. Forum, in this case.

Please be aware that we cannot control the activities of third parties to whom we provide data, and as such we cannot guarantee that they adhere to the same privacy and security procedures as Blizzard.

It’s telling you right there, and rightly so, that Blizzard is not responsible for internet asshats. And it’s right, they aren’t. Real ID just gives these third parties more information. Information they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Blizzard may need to disclose your personal information to third party vendors to fulfill product orders or prizes, to process mailings, or to process, analyze, and/or store data on Blizzard’s behalf. We will attempt to ensure that these entities do not use your personal information for any other purpose, and that they have agreed to maintain the confidentiality, security, and integrity of the personal information they obtain from us.

Basically you are safe and can be assured that third party vendors will abide by Blizzard’s rules. As far as the rest of the internet, you’re on your own.

When posting to a message board, forum, or chat area, please be aware that the information is being made publicly available on-line and the user does so at his or her own risk.

Someone explain to me how this isn’t Blizzard telling people that now they have to deal with a riskier real world situation in order to use one of their services, right there in print.

What choices do I have regarding the collection, use, and distribution of my personal information?

Lastly, you may be given the opportunity to “opt-out” of certain features or functionality (e.g. Real ID).

Key word being “may”. So far there is no opt-out for forum Real ID. And chances are there won’t be, since it would defeat the whole purpose of the thing, as most people would opt-out of it.

What about Children?

Children Under 13

Once a child states that his/her age is under 13, we do not collect or store any personally identifiable information such as name, address, or email address.

There’s the opt out! Huzzah! Cataclysm is going to be a huge hit with the under-13 crowd, as far as Blizzard’s metrics will be able to tell, at least.

Note to Parents
We recognize a special obligation to protect personal information about young children. We urge parents to instruct their children to never give out their real names, addresses, or phone numbers, without permission, when on-line.

Do I even have to comment on this? No. Moving on.

What is Real ID?

Real ID friends can see each other’s real-life name and can see each other’s characters across all Blizzard products and services. By participating in Real ID, you will also be making your real name visible to your friend’s friends, who will also be able to invite you to become friends.

… and by participating in forum Real ID, you will also be making your real name visible to the whole internet, which will also be able to order a million pizzas to your house, amongst other fun activities.

How secure is my personal information?

Blizzard has taken steps to assure that all information collected will remain secure and in its original form, i.e. free from any alteration. As such, access to all personal information is strictly controlled. When credit card information is transmitted, for example, we use industry standard, SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption. In addition,
we will take reasonable steps to assure that third parties to whom we transfer any data will provide sufficient protection of personal information.

If by “strictly controlled” it means “available to anyone with an internet connection”, then okay. But it must be just talking about Blizzard internally.

Reasonable steps, however? Forget about reasonable. This is taking no miserable steps whatsoever. Not even one.

This Privacy Policy was last updated on June 30, 2010.

Then of course all this Real ID for forums deal was thought up just this past week.

5 thoughts on “The ESRB certifies anyone these days…”

  1. Blizzard has confused two groups.

    1) giddy mindless hypersexual popularity-craving tweens using internet(Facebook) to get l33t G0SS1Ps and do “FB Creeping”

    2) super-geek nerd-raging mindless shut-in MMO gamers using internet(WoW) to get l33t 3P1Cs and do “Mob Creeping”

    Unfortunately it is very unlikely the greater playerbase of Farmville will every become a part of the MMO market, and vice versa. The gamers are basement dwellers with privacy as a priority, at least in the interest of masking their “Gamer Persona”.

    I am actually really disappointed in Blizzard to be honest. Up until now one of their most admirable qualities as whole was the general industry-savvy they showed. Gone.

    1. Well if what I’m reading around is correct, rank and file Blizzardites are as upset about all this as the players. Seems to have been a call coming down from Activision, which is not surprising, but not encouraging for the future of Blizzard games, Real ID or not.

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