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Warcraft game maker in spying row

 
 
Imhotep
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      11-03-2005
"Game maker Blizzard has been accused of spying on the four million players
of World of Warcraft.

Net activists branded software used to spot cheats "spyware" because it
gathers information about the other programs running on players' PCs."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4385050.stm

It is getting worse....Sony, Blizzard, what is next???

Imhotep
 
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Colin B.
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      11-03-2005
Imhotep <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> "Game maker Blizzard has been accused of spying on the four million players
> of World of Warcraft.
>
> Net activists branded software used to spot cheats "spyware" because it
> gathers information about the other programs running on players' PCs."
>
> http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4385050.stm
>
> It is getting worse....Sony, Blizzard, what is next???


This is not news. Furthermore, it's disingenious to equate Sony's actions
and Blizzard's. What Blizzard is trying to do with this program is prevent
cheating in a multiplayer game, which would harm other people. Also, they
have been clear about the existence and purpose of this program from the
beginning. Any players who are unaware of this program are suffering from
willful ignorance.

Now the technique used is a bit scary--it seems to have the precision of a
scattergun and the finesse of a cannon. It seems to inadvertently be catching
far more information than it should be searching for, although that seems to
be more a result of lazy programming than maliciousness.

Greg Hoglund pointed out that the two things it does which make it spyware
in his eyes are accessing the user's email client, and (in his case) the PGP
key manager. Why it would do this I can't imagine, and I'm none to happy with
it either. One interesting thing is that in his report, Hoglund points out
that all of the other information collected is hashed, and then compared
against a hash database. If this is also done with email and PGP information,
then I have a hard time imagining how Blizzard would get any useful
information from it. (Failing, of course, a massive conspiracy where WoW is
actually just a front for a global spy or spam ring.)

Blizzard isn't entirely blameless here, and as Bruce Schneier points out,
this is a fairly benign thin-edge-of-the-wedge which could lead to far worse
abuses. Regardless, it sure ain't Sony, or RealPlayer for that matter.

Colin
 
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