Perfect Poster Child, Kim

Bill Harris published this article on his blog two weeks ago, noting a few key sentences from the Electronic Arts Privacy Policy (italics & emphasis are Bill’s):

If you sign up to play EA games through Microsoft’s Xbox Live Service, Microsoft will provide your Xbox Live user account information to EA so that we can establish an EA Online account for you. You need an EA Online account to play EA’s Xbox Live titles. By signing up to play EA’s Xbox Live titles, you agree that Microsoft can transfer your user account information to EA.

Information collected will vary depending upon the activity and may include your name, e-mail address, phone number, mobile number, home address, birth date and credit card information. In addition, we may collect demographic information such as gender, zip code, information about your computer, hardware, software, platform, media, Internet IP address and connection, information about online activity such as feature usage, game play statistics and scores, user rankings and click paths and other data that you may provide in surveys or online profiles, for instance. We may combine demographic information with personal information.

Wow, I can’t think of a single thing that they are NOT transmitting. Quite the list, hey?  Seems to me you could do an awful lot with that information…

Bill then tried to look at various Microsoft privacy policies and couldn’t find any notice to users that Microsoft might transfer out what EA says is being transferred in.

Apparently there has been a wide distribution of his complaint — but EA hasn’t bothered to respond or even acknowledge the questions that are being raised. Neither has Microsoft.

Why is it ok for Microsoft to send all of that information to EA? User information is being piped apparently indiscriminately. Can the user even find out which information is sent when, and for what purpose? Do the users have the power to stand up and say NO, this is NOT a valid use of my personal data?

This kind of policy should be a major embarrassment to both of the companies involved. Questions & complaints should be plastered on public forums, and representatives of both Xbox and Electronic Arts should be made to answer for their actions whenever they speak to the press or to consumers.

We have the technology to empower users in cases exactly like this. The question is, what kind of pressure are these two companies under to examine their practices? Will they just brush those pesky complaining users off of their lapels, and continue to play fast and loose with identity data?

Let’s find out how much pressure we can bring to bear. If we aren’t horrified by this, who will be?

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