ESRB Apologizes For Leaking A Thousand Emails

After accidentally sharing the email addresses of gamers who complained about having to use their real names on World of Warcraft-maker Blizzard’s forums, the Entertainment Software Rating Board offered this mea culpa:

Yesterday we sent an e-mail to a number of consumers who wrote to us in recent days expressing their concern with respect to Blizzard’s Real ID program. Given the large number of messages we received, we decided to respond with a mass e-mail so those who’d written us would receive our response as quickly as possible – rather than responding to each message individually, as is our usual practice.

Through an unfortunate error by one of our employees, some recipients were able to see the e-mail addresses of others who wrote on the same issue. Needless to say, it was never our intention to reveal this information and for that we are genuinely sorry. Those who write to ESRB to express their views expect and deserve to have their contact and personal information protected. In this case, we failed to do so and are doing everything we can to ensure it will not happen again in the future.

The fact that our message addressed individuals’ concerns with respect to their privacy underscores how truly disappointing a mistake this was on our part. We work with companies to ensure they are handling people’s private information with confidentiality, care and respect. It is only right that we set a good example and do no less ourselves.

We sincerely apologize to those who were affected by this error and appreciate their understanding.


Entertainment Software Rating Board

The ESRB has truly learned its lesson, judging by the way it BCC’d the recipients this time.

(Thanks, Erica!)

Previously: Gamers Who Complained About Blizzard’s Forum Privacy See Email Addresses Leaked


Edit Your Comment

  1. Noir says:

    didn’t you guys just posted this?

  2. suez says:

    Dang, for a second I thought that was the old Rev. Jim Baker begging forgiveness!

  3. cmdr.sass says:

    This is a pretty common mistake which is why good software automatically selects BCC for large numbers of recipients.

    • DanRydell says:

      And mailservers can be configured to prevent sending to more than a certain number of recipients.

      • erinpac says:

        That can lead to interesting results though too.

        The main mailing list we use at work is set up half CC and half BCC so that everyone “fits” with the sending limits there. >.

    • strathmeyer says:

      There’s a word for the class of people who expect something to do something other than what they tell it to.

  4. Draygonia says:

    Isn’t it stupid to address the mistake? Most people may not have noticed but now they may be annoyed or angry :/

    • JoeDawson says:

      Would you rather they ignored it?

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      The mistake had already been made public. It’s too late to hope no one notices now.

    • Ominous Gamer says:

      Trust me they noticed, a few reply alls is all it takes to understand that this random discussion that ended up in your inbox was because someone really screwed up.

    • dolemite says:

      Everyone knew about it. It’s kind of a big deal when they are releasing real names on forums, etc, then make a big mistake like CC’ing everyone on something.

    • SlayerGhede says:

      The CC section of every email was longer than the email itself. I think they noticed.

  5. WinterDog says:

    I’m pretty sure the ESRB didn’t leak a thousand “e-mails.” It leaked a thousand e-mail addresses. There’s a pretty significant difference, no? The headline should reflect this.

    • erinpac says:

      While email address would be more accurate, “email” seems to be used to mean the address quite often now.
      For example, while your profile page here shows your “email address”, when you register it asks for your “email”.

  6. DancesWithBadgers says:

    As someone who came back from a day off to find hundreds of e-mails sent reply to all with the only message being ‘stop hitting reply to all’ after a poorly configured mailing list test I find this amusing.