Monday, July 12, 2010

OT Rant - In which I would laugh you out of the court

During the whole RealID debacle last week, I kept seeing a comment pop up in the arguments against the whole "Your Name" display. Namely, that someone would use your name and other personal information gleaned from previous conversations to find out where you live, and then hurt you (or kill you). Now, while I can find this scenario plausible (if unlikely), it could certainly happen. From what I understand this happens (the showing up, not the hurting) in Season One of "The Guild" (sorry, never watched it) - where a guild mate shows up on the doorstep of Codex (Felicia Day) unannounced and uninvited.

Here's a scenario as presented by Cleric over at Paladin Schmaladin.

Young Jennifer Jones, an unassuming co-ed of 21 years of age, is an avid WoW player. She loves her ret pally and pwns noobs regularly. She makes friends here and there, and from time to time, adds them to RealID as she grows to trust them. One of her RealID friends, John Smith, develops a crush on her. He reveals the crush, only to find that the love is unrequited from Jennifer. John is heartbroken, but he is also angry. John also has a history of emotional problems, including psychotic breakdowns which have sometimes turned violent. At times, John has a hard time telling the difference legally between right and wrong. Turning his anger towards Jennifer into something productive, and thanks to RealID's providing of both first and last name, plus personal details Jennifer has revealed over time, he performs a Google search. Within 10 minutes, he has datamined plenty of personal information about her, including her phone number and address. John decides to take a little drive over to Jennifer's apartment, and give her whatfor. He violently and sexually assaults her, and leaves her for dead.
In his post, Cleric goes on to state that regardless of if she survives the attack or not, she (and her family) would likely sue Blizzard for damages. Cleric goes into some more talk about the Eula/ToS (it's a decent read, even if you don't like the site or Ferrarro's antics). This isn't about the legality of such a suit though, or if it would succeed or not. Instead, I'm looking at the fact that someone would even consider suing Blizzard in the first place.

Welcome to Crazy Town

I'm sorry. I must have missed the bus to the town of illogical conclusions. While I recognize that our society and legal system have degraded to a point where you can sue McDonalds for serving a hot cup of coffee (the only crime there was ordering McDonalds coffee), I fail to follow the logic in suing Blizzard if such an event occurred. In my opinion this is as idiotic as someone suing a gun manufacturer, because little Timmy got his hands on dad's .45 and put a hollow point through the neighbor kid.

Now, I can see where you might have a potential leg to stand on if Blizzard retroactively changed the forums to show this information. You might even have some wiggle room if the whole "Some addon shows your RealID to everyone" story is true (I haven't seen definitive proof of this yet, but it could be out there), since that is a security coding flaw on Blizzard's part. However, the game in and of itself - without any additional addons - is still secure. That's pretty much Blizzard's defense right there, and (though I'm not a lawyer) seems pretty solid. You modified the game environment, you got burned. Sry:(

Get to the point already

Where I'm going with this is intent of use, and personal accountability. While these things don't seem to be as popular today as they used to be, they should still hold true.

  • Burn yourself on hot coffee? It's coffee. Unless you ordered a frappachino which turned out to be lava instead, you're on your own here. Except for the beating you should get for ordering a frappachino. Go get a slushy.
  • Timmy shot the neighbor kid? Honestly, I don't even know where to start with this one, except it isn't the fault of the gun manufacturer for not coming to your house and personally teaching you about firearm safety.
  • CrazyDKXXX (aka, Tim the crazy head from WoW) gets a name off the forums, which someone had to explicitly agree to them using, and then shows up at your sister's house, commits the oldest sins in the newest ways, and then kills himself on her doorstep? Maybe you can go after his estate, but Blizzard didn't force anyone to post on the forums with their real names - the poster CHOSE to do so.
  • Same scenario, but Tim gets your name from a addon he wrote that abuses Blizzard's code? I'll give you a 50/50 toss on this one, it'll have to be a good argument, but I'll at least hear you out.
  • Same scenario, but Blizzard retroactively changes the forums to show your name? 75/25 or better.

Take responsibility for your own actions. We've become sue happy, and all too willing to point the finger at someone else, even in a video game. Read the EULA and the TOS for once instead of blindly clicking OK, and hell - go back and read the EULA and TOS for all your software. You'd be amazed at what's in there. Finally, realize that your security and your safety are your responsibility. While I think many of the actions taken by folks during this debacle were really just them over-reacting, I can at least empathize with their viewpoint.

Stay vigilant, stay safe, and remember. A Blizzard employee will never ask you for your password.


  1. Alistair Moody? Is that you Mad-Eye? Indeed, I am a lawyer and I can tell you constant vigilance is definitely the way to go. Indeed Jennifer should have known to never use the forums even for technical support. Women always and especially should know better. No personal information out there anywhere. Men are all evil, (well not all, but you can't tell the difference since they are all pigs.)
    Jennifer was asking for it, by asking for help on the Tech Support forums, where John or Tim found her name. If she does anything else she is simply screaming take advantage of me to the entire world. In other words she asked for it.

    That sounds familiar...

    I do agree constant vigilance is required on the internet, though I really do. They are out to get us, from the 3rd world email scams about dead people leaving you millions to Gold Sellers trying to keylog our accounts to rob us to sell gold to other morons. I also agree this scenario seems unlikely, but the question is not one of whether Blizz would win or not.
    Just try and keep it out of the papers, that is the real problem for Blizz, and why an unscrupulous lawyer would take the case. They can't win in a court of law. Why should they care? Public opinion will give them all the judgment they need in an out of court undisclosed amount settlement.

  2. Losing in the court of public opinion is such a crock. It's like OJ - the guy was acquitted (note, I'm not saying he was innocent), and then still had to cough up millions in a civil suit. Ridiculous.


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