ESRB accidentally releases nearly 1,000 Real ID e-mail addresses They were privacy advocates, too.

Recently, Blizzard made it known what their intentions were for the implementation of their new Real ID system, which in all truth sounded pretty cool. That is, except for one thing: removing anonymity from users on their forums.

Fortunately, after taking up broomsticks and storming the proverbial gates of Blizzard HQ, the company decided on a different course of action. With that, it was over as quickly as it began…

Or so we thought.

During the course of these events, a number of people took their grievances to the Electronic Software Ratings Board. The ESRB listened, and responded to those who took the time to contact them.

The problem?

Whoever was in charge of sending the letter apparently clicked “reply to all” or just pasted all the addresses in the “To” field, thus exposing all of the nearly 1,000 e-mail addresses to… well, everyone else on the list. Following is the letter which was sent, which concludes with a now-amusing blurb regarding the company’s privacy policy:

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

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

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.


Entertainment Software Rating Board

Not to blast someone for what was no doubt an honest mistake, but perhaps the ESRB should bump their own name up the list of companies they help with developing privacy practices.

UPDATE: The ESRB has issued an apology:

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. 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.

– Eliot Mizrachi, ESRB


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