Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Blizzard is heading right towards their first privacy PR disaster

More and more news appear on Blizzard's RealID system, and things are starting to turn ugly: Blizzard announced that in the future all official forums would display your real name instead of your character name, and some clever hacks found out that addons can be programmed to display the real name of other WoW players without them having given you permission or friending you.

Protests are getting louder, Pangoria deleted his WoW posts on his blog in protest, and somebody even made a RealIDiots protest site. The countdown has started until something really bad happens, like somebody with a distinctive real name pissing somebody else off in game and then getting a visit from somebody armed with Google and a baseball bat. Or sexual harassment of girls whose cover of using a male character has been blown.

Social networks using real names can work, but the history of Facebook shows that one fundamental rule for these networks is that you can't have people signing up with some level of presumption of privacy, and then withdraw that privacy protection later. Thus it would be okay for Blizzard to lets say release their next MMO game with a RealID system and inform everybody that their real name will be used in that game. It is *not* okay to let people play for nearly 6 years under anonymity, and then strip that anonymity away. Even if the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory predicts that stripping people of their anonymity will make them behave better.
It isn't going to be retroactive. It will only apply to posts going forward, so they aren't ripping anonymity away.

I actually think it's a good thing. It will help keep the trolls in line, how is that bad? If someone is worried about their privacy then they don't have to participate in the forums. Forums aren't a necessary part of enjoying the game.

I think people are overreacting to the situation.

It's bad because the price of removing trolls is too high. Reducing a problem of silly forum posts and replacing it with a potential for RL harassment is not smart.

It's interesting to note that not one single post that I have read to date on this, by any blogger, has been in favour.
Every time I see a comment like "Void"s all I can think is the 13 year old behind it has no idea what he's in for. In my last job I was politely yet firmly given the ultimatum to take down my blog, or lose my job! My old blog was all in the name of Kleedrac and didn't have my job, company, or real name anywhere, but with some creative googling it's easy to connect some dots. The reason it's such a big deal is that I don't want to lose out on a promotion because googling my name produces a rant about Death Knights in Cataclysm or something like that!
It is *not* okay to let people play for nearly 6 years under anonymity, and then strip that anonymity away.

Just that this isn't going to happen.
You should read the announcement completely before you write somthing about it.

I actually think that this will enhance the WoW community.

If you want to post in the future don't use lvl 1 troll characters!

This is completely fucking insane.

Every server has it's ninjas and trolls and minor internet celebrities - what happens when the first person is stalked, raped, or killed because their real name is discovered from the forums?

All the real trolls and idiots will just use fake names anyway, but I fear for the safety of earnest young people who are too naive to know better. It's a sick world and exposing yourself like that is completely unsafe.

What a nightmare.

Even if you forget the real life equation, the cyber-stalking/bullying/hacking that this will cause is going to be a nightmare.

What if a female player wishes to not be harassed for her gender? I know my wife would now NEVER post on the forums, the hateful ignorant attitude that pervades the web wont be stopped by this, because the abusive people will just use gimmick spoof spam or hacked accounts anyway.
I honestly am afraid it will take something disastrous to happen before they change their stance on this, and by then it will be too late. Game-related attacks and murders already happen, and that's when the crazy player does all the legwork himself.

I dread the backlash when a WoW-related incident occurs and the news jumps all over the fact that the victim's personal information was provided by Blizzard. It'll set video game reputations and standards back 20 years.
Also, the worst part is they're not even doing this for any apparent reason. They are alienating and enraging the community for what - to clean up the forums a bit? As sad as it sounds, it would almost be better if there were a financial angle behind this so that we could at least understand WHY they are so insistent. But it seems like they are just dead set on destroying their hard-earned positive public image. :(
Agreed, Rades.

I can scarcely begin to guess their motivation behind this. Sure RealID is nifty technology if only in terms of chatting with real life friends on other servers.

But the lack of options, cutomization, and privacy throughout the whole system is disastrous. No matter what delusions or ambitions Activision-Blizzard has, WoW/Starcraft 2 isn't Facebook. Users don't buy the boxed game and sign up as an extension of their real life, we do it to escape into a fantasy for awhile. Having to go by real names destroys the fundamental basis of why people play these games and participate in the community to begin with - to forge a new identity.
Follow the money... there is for certain a financial motivator for a decision like this.
Next up: must have webcam installed and turned on if WoW players want to continue playing the game!
@Rades: Most people on facebook were not upset by what happened, and similarly most people in WoW won't be either.

Think about the blogging community. Tobold is one of the more popular bloggers out there, and he reports what.... 3k visitors a day? If 3000 people unsubscribe from WoW, the damage is minimal.

Add to that the people that actually post in the forums (like I used to), and how many more do you have? I saw over 250 pages of people saying they didn't want the RealID in the forums, does that mean about another 3000 people who might quit WoW?

We are barely halfway up to 10k, and we would need a million to make Blizzard/Activision change their policy.

Their loss will be minimal, and that is only IF people quit. I quit a long time ago, I just know I won't be back, even if they don't push this through.
If that change goes into effect then a single post on the forums will link your characters with your real name. Forever. The internet does not forget.

You had to ask for help in the technical forums, report a bug, provide some help to someone? Too bad. Some time later the company you are trying to get hired at will google you and reject your application because you have an "addictive personality".

You suddenly get real life spam to buy WoW gold because googling your name from the forum post turns up your address.

The glyph seller that you just undercut in the AH ... he just placed orders for pizza, bibles, and sex toys to your address thanks to the real name that Blizzard so thoughtfully provided.

Think this is unrealistic?
It's all about lead generation which is a type of internet marketing.

Most of us have seen those ads "want to meet singles in your area?" and pretty much blank them out.

By collecting your personal data they can target it at you.

So you might see "Hey Michael, you live at Acacia Drive, right? We have 3 hot women with 2 streets of your house who are looking to meet single guys. Sign up today and maybe you won't be going to bed alone tonight!"

Marketing will become much more effective when there's less privacy. Your music adverts will be bands you like or similar bands, your google searches are already generating ads based on your previous pattern of searching and so on.

Advertisers don't necessarily have your best interests at heart. In a sense the best advertisers want to sell you stuff you don't want since there's no need to hire someone to get you to buy stuff you do want.
Those of you saying "oh, just don't post on the forums" might want to re-read the part where it says that addons can now display your RealID name in game even to people who aren't your friends.

How many parents would have allowed their children to play WoW knowing their real names will be exposed to every passing stranger?
The first people to suffer because of this is Blizzard CM Bashiok's family. He gave out his name to prove how safe it is. Well, within a day people posted his name, address, family make-up, pictures of his home, and more online. They've called his house repeatedly, to the point where no one will answer anymore.

I feel bad for the guy. He supported the company a little too far on this one. The real shame is that the same thing will happen to every other Blizzard CM when this goes through - unless they all unlist themselves from paper and online phone books.

The one thing that I don't understand is this, why did Blizzard want to do this anyway?

If any, people love their privacy. Yes, even as simple as their real name. That's why not everyone wears a name badge. That's why even kids working at Mc Donald's would only have their first name on the name badge and not their full name. That's why when you apply for a job and give your resume, the resume isn't meant to be read by everyone in the company but only those involved in hiring.

To reveal people's identity without their consent is just simply a disaster waiting to happen. We'll see how Blizzard goes from here, and I hope Tobold will continue to update us with what's happening.
I believe that Activision-Blizzard have committed a criminal offence under the UK Data Protection Act. I have reported their behaviour to the Information Commissioner's Office and suggested that they serve notice on Activision-Blizzard, and that if the company fail to respond the Commissioner should begin a criminal prosecution. I would urge all UK residents to make a similar complaint to the relevant authority here.
what disturbs me the most, is that until now you got banned for posting reallife information on the blizz-

Distribution of Real-Life Personal Information

This category includes:
* Releasing any real-life information about other players or Blizzard Entertainment employees

If a player is found to have participated in such actions, he/she will:
* Be permanently banned from the forums

and now blizzard is doing it themselves.
thats pretty fucked up.
Next on News at 9: Banks make a killing with WoW-only credit cards, cards in which are linked to your main account but let you use a different(fake) name on the card instead. This card will only work with battle-net and nothing else

If this does go through though(RealID on forums), do you think there will be a mass exodus from wow forums, wow, or both?

@Chris wow, you'd imagine the phrase 'once bitten, twice shy' might have occurred to them

@arthur i hope that works

I don't like the route that Blizzard's taking.
They implemented the email login system first.
Then they shoved RealID in-game
And now forum posters get tagged with their real names?
When will the madness stop? When in-game characters all have their real names?
The points raised by Kleedrac are valid indeed.
oh, didn't someone once say, "The path to hell is paved with good intentions" ?
Just proves on the 'longevity' of places such as 4chan. As like the founder of 4chan (moot) had mentioned that people need/want a certain level of anonymity.

Despite trolling being a potential problem linked with anonymity, so far it still has proven that it can be helpful/productive as evident in the cases moot had talked about in his Ted talk. Similar to that of the current WoW forums where there are so many guides and good advice given out with the anonymity of the person writing being there.

Since a good percentage of all trolls are usually some level 1 alt, i guess Blizz could just only allow posts to be done only using an account's highest level character? Then again it could prove to be useless to those with multiple accounts or many max level alts =\
We really need to agree on about what we are talking here:
Do we talk about new forum posts on the official Blizzard forums having your real name?

Or do we talk about RealID(s) in general and how they could be misused anywhere on the internet?

I don't feel immersed into a fantasy world (as if 90% of you would even care), if people with real names run around. .. but nobody wants to introduce such a thing, in the first place.

You can still discuss WoW anonymiously, but Blizzard wants their forums to become more constructive. They don't want to offer a place for nothing that people use to troll 80% of the time. That's quite legitimate!

If I made a game I also wouldn't want to offer such a service that is as misused as the WoW-forums are today. If you have something constructive to add to the community, it shouldn't be a problem to subscribe with your real identity!

If you care about employers discriminating: Don't worry, things like skin color will continue to be much more influential. Besides: Why would you even want to work for such a (stupid) employer? Get more self-confident, people!
If Blizzards goal is to make the forums more constructive they could have found other ways.

I'm wondering how much this will tie in with SC2, eg if you get to pick an alias for that game at all.
'Why would you even want to work for such a (stupid) employer? Get more self-confident, people!'

I don't know what the employment rates are like where you are from, but not everyone has the luxury of being able to limit their applications to nice, friendly, non-judgemental employers.
A lot of people, say for instance facebooks users have no real concept of security and what can really be done, once someone has an opening.

Facebook changed their security settings recently to a more open form, which caused a storm and had them back down. The only people not moaning about it, were those that didn't really understand the changes.

Every walk of life has idiots and people who are just plain nasty. It doesn't take someone that long to knock together a tool which starts linking various bits of freely available information together into a script.

Remember its the internet, you only need one clever person, the rest just copy. Script kiddies of the world unite.

I have a lot of time over the years for blizzard, all the way from Warcraft one, but this has to be the mother of cockups.
A simple solution for anti-trolling can be found on EJs: stronger moderation, one nick that must be connected to a valid account, end of story.

My guess is that their intention is to connect/tie us to Blizzard, and not 'just' to WoW (since there are other big releases coming up). The problem is, this is the wrong way to do it. They could just make a single nickname used in all their games. I am sure there is more emotional attachment to our nicks than our real names. But our real names are in a whole different realm, that of rationality. I like to keep those separate.

The revealing of all kinds of personal details of that Blizz employee that one commenter posted is really horrible, and I am sure things could get much uglier.

Also, to the person who was counting pure numbers: it is not about absolute numbers, otherwise no elections would ever hold, and no public pressure would ever work on established power-spots. There are such things as "trendsetters" and "opinion-makers" - their voices count, not because they are the 50%+1 or a serious financial loss threat, but because they care more than 'the silent majority'. Good arguments and constant pressure are felt by all "powers that be", believe me.

Tobold, can you be more specific about those addons that show your full name? are they ubiquitous already? easy to get? reliable? there are no ways to counter them?
Added the link to the MMOChampion story showing that RealID can be hacked using addons, so the official forum changes are actually the smaller problem.
Blizzard is not the first to have had this idea: here is where they got it from.
You misunderstand the addon issue.

You probably won't read this, but in case you do, here's how it works:
It it NOT possible to write an addon that will allow you to retrieve someone else's RealID info.
The issue is that any addon *you* use can access *your* RealID info. For instance, an addon developer could trick you into installing an addon that will cause *your* game client to spam trade chat with your RealID info.

Eventually, Blizzard will probably tweak the API to prevent this.
Update. Another UK resident has already made a complaint to the UK Commissioner before my one, and the complaint against Activision Blizzard is being investigated by the UK Commissioner.
@Tobold - "Those of you saying "oh, just don't post on the forums" might want to re-read the part where it says that addons can now display your RealID name in game even to people who aren't your friends."

Scary. But... Is there even a working example of this? There's also another thread on the forums about it - where they have better info than FUD from I'll test it when I can log onto WoW.

Anyway, first of all, it would require an addon on MY side to respond with such info. It wouldn't work at all if I don't have a hacked addon, so at this point, any random guy who sees me in Dalaran CAN'T learn my name.

Second, this actually can and should be fixed pretty quickly by removing the code from the API or doing something similar to break this "functionality". End of a clever hack. From the thread I've listed it seems that Blizzard was preventing this, but they missed one function.
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Blizz dont like how the forums work.

So what?

Neither does most of the playerbase, which is probably one of the reasons for the many (and better moderated) forums and blogs around dedicated to share and discuss the game.

With so many million people playing a game, conflict is bound to happen. And putting it down to anonymity is a fallacy.

Even with RL names linked to posts, people are going to disagree, be unpleasant and unproductive. Hell, people are like that IRL alot of the time too, when the consequences (bad grades, getting fired, getting less pay) are quite dire.

If Blizz want a different kind of community, they need to draw upon the good things going around at the moment. Like, f.ex. the many skilled and dedicated bloggers around. They need to change the way players communicate with the company.

We dont need a democracy, but dont you find it weird that in all this time Blizz have never once (afaik) done a public poll about changes that needs done? Or what works/dont work in game?
@Tobold - double post, sorry, missed that part.

"How many parents would have allowed their children to play WoW knowing their real names will be exposed to every passing stranger?"

And why can't the parents in question just disable the whole RealID system using the Parental Controls in the account management? It's just one checkbox there - "Enable RealID".

And once again, "their real names will be exposed to every passing stranger" is FUD.
Nils said:
If I made a game I also wouldn't want to offer such a service that is as misused as the WoW-forums are today. If you have something constructive to add to the community, it shouldn't be a problem to subscribe with your real identity!

That's not the problem. We all (well we all who play a MMO similar to WoW) subscribe with our real identities today. Blizzard (or whoever runs your game) can find it in their database if they want to without any problem. The big problem with this is that EVERYONE can see your real name, and they don't even need to know that.

Granted the way the WoW forums are run today is a bit stupid and I thought so the very first day I saw them. Allowing you to pick different characters to post with will cause problems when people just switch when they want to troll. But what's really so wrong with how almost any other forum works? One single nickname, period.
It's like we're back in the 90's when identity theft was considered a non-issue through the computer.
Like wth is Blizzard thinking. I haven't even given my full real name to the best friends I've met online.
You'll never get fully rid of trolls, it's just something you have to accept. Besides how is having their real name plastered all over the interweb gonna stop trolls from trolling, it's not like bad language is a crime in RL. On top of which, how can they possibly assume trolls would use their real name anyway.
I'll take internet fuckwads every minute of every hour of every day of the week before using my real name on a public forum(or even a private forum for that matter)
/me awaits first murder of an innocent because of a fakename griefer, kidnapping of kids of stupid parents and massive CC fraud from identity theft.
Somebody up above said "follow the money." Is the motivation for this something as simple as wanting to reduce costs for community moderation. Maybe the thinking is simply they can cut some CMs because fewer people will act out in the forums if their real names are exposed.

I mean, Blizzard is obviously struggling financially. I think our privacy is definitely worth sacrificing if they can save a few bucks (yes that was sarcasm).
AHAH! So finally the advantages of having a very common name come to light! YES! MUHAHAHAHA!

Ok seriously though this is a pretty bad idea. I predict the forums will see serious decline in usage if this actually goes through. Whats the point of the RealID system anyways? Is it that hard to call people by their in game names? And besides anyone I'm friends with or have become friends with over WoW eventually learns my name anyways so why would anyone even want to tie their real name to their in game character via some system?
Call me old fashioned, but my sole interest in a product I purchase is...the use of that product. Even putting security and privacy concerns aside (as difficult as that may be) I think the marketing and branding logic that is driving this kind of consolidation and "transparency" is nefarious in its own right.

Like many players I have been at times bored or burned out with the game and considered leaving. I have taken several "WoW breaks" to try other mmo's or stop gaming all together, but the lack of any interesting alternatives and the momentum of my WoW history has always brought me back.

I have now canceled my account for what I believe will be the last time - for a different set of reasons all together. To me the significant difference between WOTLK and Vanilla/BC is not poor item scaling, improper class balance, or shoddy raid design. It is the hubris, born of sustained and unparalleled success, with which Blizzard has informed their philosophy of both game design and business strategy.

The relationship between "the community" and "the developer" has (regrettably) devolved into one between "consumer" and "service provider". Perhaps WoW's popularity and mass market appeal has made this transformation unavoidable - but it nonetheless has radically changed the Blizzard/subscriber dynamic.
Regarding "follow the money" and "reducing the cost of running the forums": I can't come up with one scenario where the whole thing actually makes money for Blizzard.

Can the cost reduction from fewer forum posts really outweigh the backlash from people quitting the game, not buying SC2 or other games, plus the likely lawsuits, and bad press? The current state of the forums is due to having neither enough Blizzard employees moderating the forums nor any effective karma/rating/whatever system. How much money can Blizzard safe on the forum maintenance if they don't spent much to begin with?

And how is publishing the real names of the posters going to bring them any money? They already have the names of anyone playing or posting. And now they are going to give that information away. For free. To everyone. To the search engines. The mind boggles.

I can't make any sense of that. Maybe the people in charge of Activision-Blizzard are playing as a new Alliance race: the Underpants Gnomes.

Did you read those links about the addons? The "hack" here is that addons running on your client can access your RealID. The only way anyone else can get access to that information is if the addon is specifically coded to broadcast your RealID. No one and nothing is hacking "into" your client to access your information. In order to expose your RealID you would have to download and run a nefarious addon, putting this "hack" on the level of a trojan horse.
If they want to fix the official forums, all they need to do is moderate it better.

I admit I have posted a couple of things on the official forums, but I go there so infrequently its probably a waste of time anyway.

I also have an unusual name, so there is no way I will be using them again!
Um, someone from your RL can just as easily get angry and use a "baseball bat" on you.

Actually its MUCH more likely. Yet that doesn't happen to the average person, EVER usually.
If you use a fake name, it will be harder or impossible to reclaim your account if it is stolen or locked, since blizzard sometimes asks for a valid id.
Anyone who is unclear about *why* Blizzard is doing this should read this article at USA Today:
"Follow the money" has nothing to do with cutting admin costs, or improving the forums by reducing trolling. Complete red herrings -- an attempt to divert your attention from what they're really doing.

You know that Activity Feed on your character's armory profile? Blizzard wants that on your Facebook page. "John Smith just killed the Lich King".

You know those real names on the forums? Blizzard wants that on your Facebook page. "John Smith just posted about 'How to Spec Ret?' on the Wow Forums".

It will expose WoW to a huge new untapped segment of the market -- in glorious, Farmville style.

That is where the money is. And that is why this is happening.
Think about the blogging community. Tobold is one of the more popular bloggers out there, and he reports what.... 3k visitors a day? If 3000 people unsubscribe from WoW, the damage is minimal.

Here's Blizzard's problem with that. The people on the blogs are the Influentials. They are the people who got the others started in the game. They are the ones that figure out strats and put them on wowwiki. They are the ones that pick up the raid leader spot.

For every blog person that Blizz loses, they end up with 10-100 more who lose the person who kept things moving, and slowly drift away themselves, because, for reasons they can't figure out, they just don't like the game anymore. And while they are drifting away, the person who got another person interested every 3 months is no longer recommending that anyone join the game.
This whole thing sounds reeeeeeeally familiar.People making a fuss over something blizzard does thats mandatory, will strip away your "privacy". Open you to harassment.. hacking even?

Forgive me if I don't rise up in arms when we've all been here before. No-one really quit because of the Armoury, no-one really quit because you have to use a account to login to the game.

The only people who may quit over having to their name displayed on a forum (im forgoing the addon issue, as thats a exploit, not a feature) - are the exact kind of people we dont want around.

I will also point out the minute you start harassing someone with a real name - it works both ways. Not to mention, Harassment is and always has been a reportable and bannable offence.

Molehill, meet my good friend mountain, Oh, you know each other well by now, I see.
I don't see this holding up after the Bashiok continuing incident. Regardless on their thoughts about it, I can't see it standing as a company policy where knuckleheads out there show just how much time they have available ruining the lives of people they have never met and know nothing about.

It's one thing to "know" that in your head, but actually having to unplug your phone and avoid threats to your family tends to drive home the point harder.

What makes this worse is that if I was working at Blizzard I would have been one of the first people in line offering to share my name for the good of the policy because I have no issue with sharing information about myself. And I would be suffering like hell right about now too.
*places tin-foil hat on head

Blizzard have stated the reason for implementing the use of real names on the forums is to stop trolling.

Now where else in game is trolling, harassment, bullying, disgusting talk and general douchebaggery present every minute of every day, in scope and quantities that far outstrips that which appears on the forums?

*removes tin-foil hat.

As stated above, this is all about lead generation and monetising your personal information (similair to waht Facebook is trying to do.)

While this isn't a game breaker for me, my subscriptions run out in October and I will be reassessing if I continue with the game on a month to month basis after this. I have been seriously thinking of getting into Eve anyway.
I'm very curious to see how the complaint to the U.K. Data Protection Commissioner pans out. I haven't read the Data protection Act closely since the 1980s, when I had to proof-read it for inclusion in insurance documents, but I seem to remember it took a pretty dim view of any use of data other than for the express purpose authorised.

A few years ago I would have expected the legal authorities to show little interest in anything game related, but times have changed. At the very least, this is going to cause some bad publicity for WoW in the U.K. non-gaming media, which has been on an identity-theft frenzy for a while now.

The U.K. media also tends to react fairly hysterically to even a hint of any corporation threatening the privacy and security of children, and as far as the media is concerned WoW is a children's game. The popular press here have no compunctions about letting facts get in the way of a good scare story, either.
I think in the UK it will depend on whether you are deemed to opt in to the RealID system when you accept the EULA.

If the EULA states that by accepting it you accept that Blizzard can publish your name to other people they're probably on safe ground. (Although it could be challenged under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts legislation).

If the EULA doesn't cover their arse then they may be in trouble. The game is not M rated, it's intended to be sold to minors. So if a minor is stalked and murdered because Blizzard revealed her identity I don't see how they could possibly defend themselves by saying her parents ought to have used Parental Controls. The fact that minors can buy, install and play the game without reference to their parents surely means that it's not the parents' duty to double check.

And of course there would be a right old media circus if their defence was "sorry your daughter got raped and murdered, we were hoping to make a few bucks off her personal details from random internet advertisers."

If it's in the EULA they're on stronger but not completely safe legal grounds.
Where are you guys getting that this is a violation of the Data Protection Act?

The only thing that I could see applying is the "right to prevent processing likely to cause damage or distress" but it says very plainly that it doesn't apply as per paragraph 1 (et al) of Schedule 2, namely "The data subject has given his consent to the processing." In fact, all the major provisions governing use are void if you give permission.

You give your consent to Blizzard to use your data in such a manner if you post on the forums. This seems pretty clear to me. Maybe I am missing something, I don't really follow UK case law...
Saw this coming a mile away...

How a company like Blizzard couldn't foresee people being upset that their real name is broadcast over their game/forums is amazing. All they had to do was make it so that someone would have to pick a unique "nickname" to show through RealID to stop this problem from ever happening...

You know, just like every other program made available for internet communication since the early 1990s...

Hey Blizzard, hire me. I'll make sure absolutely retarded decisions like this are never made. Just give me the ideas list 15 minutes or so ahead of time, and I'll use my superior intellect to tell you when you're idea would be making a colossal mistake.
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I just had a browse through the Act online and athough I'm hardly qualified to jusdge, I can't really see how it would restrict what Blizzard proposes. I'm not at all sure that a subscriber's name alone would even constitute "sensitive personal data" under the definition.

However, it's not really whether any complaint might be upheld that matters, it's whether one of our media outlets, particularly a tabloid, decided to run a scare story on the possibilities. An application to the Commissioners under the act could trigger journalistic interest and a quick flick through the links that come up on a Google search on the current debate over RealID and WoW would provide all the inflammatory quotes needed.

WoW really isn't big enough to interest mainstream media, but Facebook is and there's a clear link.
UK Data Protection Act - stipulates that a body may only collect data that is essential to the purpose of sale/contract/agreement at hand.

That data is then protected. The custodian of that data is obliged to inform you if ANY part is to be passed on to a third party before you agree to the contract.

Does the TOA or EULA specify that Blizzard can share this data? Your name is protected too.

Most companies provide a tick box... in that you do not wish to have your data to be shared.

Blizzard currently, IMHO, have implemented an unfair and illegal contract.

The service they provide is an online gaming environment. To release private data is not core or even remotely essential to the role of their services.

Blizzard will back down on this.

I've dipped in n out of wow for a while.

There have been many final straws... but this time they have nerfed the camel!

Goodbye Blizzard and every game you are associated with.
@ Bhagpuss - I'm not at all sure that a subscriber's name alone would even constitute "sensitive personal data" under the definition.

To be honest it is relative... you may not think the publication of your name is sensitive.

I personally do.
@Nils: There's a very wide gap between level one troll characters and real life information. One extreme isn't a great choice, nor is the other. But hey, why be reasonable and suggest something like an account display when you could claim that we need to hand out RL information to remove a few trolls?

@Pangoria: 3k per day, but I can guarantee that not everyone reads every day, so the total readers may be much higher. There's also the social multiplier: pull out one player and friends who only play because they play will leave as well.
@Klepscovic: You're right about that, as well, that with decision to not return, 2 others won't.

@Situation: Has anyone confirmed that there was a 90 minute waiting period to cancel your account?
The goal is a better discussion on the forums.

The correct solution is to rank posts (as they plan to), and have the rankings a player receives be shown across all characters on their account. If the ranking gets too low they could even have posting temporarily disabled. Additionally, you could allow players to easily see all characters on a given account. That is a limited version of removal of anonymity that doesn't strike into real life. Even then, I'm not sure I'm a fan. The boards do sometimes benefit from things like high-level raiders being able to post on their alts.

Maybe Blizzard also wants to make the game stop feeling so much like a disconnected, escapist fantasy. Ok... designate servers by geographic area, e.g. the ~1.5m people in my metro area get a server. Allow people with credit cards in that area to transfer there for free. Then when I find a group of people *I actually like and trust* I could link up with them in real life.

I feel like I've offered several helpful suggestions on the forums over the years; count me as someone who would be pretty disinclined to post from now on were I to resub even though I have an insanely common, therefore basically google-proof name.
"All they had to do was make it so that someone would have to pick a unique "nickname" to show through RealID to stop this problem from ever happening"

Also, this. I was pretty shocked to look over the details a little while ago and find out it would show my actual name. I'm Nissl everywhere on the internet. I wouldn't mind at all if people on blogs I frequent could look me up that way. No way am I posting first and last name on a blog, though.
Here's my take:
@ Sine Nomine

Ironically the Commissioner coincidentally issued a press release yesterday.

I would refer you to point 6 of that document at the bottom. Clearly the use of any ones real name is not "secure", and as other posters have pointed out, if they let you post only on one nickname and moderated appropriately there would be no need to use real names, thus to suggest they should is "excessive".
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
If you have something to add to the discussion, try to use more than a single word in ALL CAPS to express your opinion, otherwise your comment ends up deleted like the one above.
Doing away with anonymity as a way of preventing trolls is like cutting off your head to cure a headache.

The only 100% way of preventing forum trolls is to close the forums down.

But that wouldn’t prevent in-game trolls so better close down all of Blizzards games.

But there is always somewhere else to troll on the internet - so best close down the whole internet.

Closing down the Internet would be a pain of course but it would shut those pesky trolls up and stopping trolls is the ONLY thing that matters - right?

On the other hand the forums are "optional" so if you dont like trolls you dont have to use them - so maybe they could have left things as they are.
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