I’m thrilled to announce that my personal information was made public by the security flaws in ESA’s website that led to the E3 leak. For some, it may not seem like a big deal, but -honestly- it is a huge deal. For those that are unaware, the Electronic Software Association revealed the phone numbers, addresses, and emails of over 2000 media attendees of their yearly E3 event, effectively doxing these content creators and journalists with a public spreadsheet shared online. The breach was first spotted by YouTuber and gaming writer Sophia Narwitz, who promptly informed the ESA of their negligence, but the data had already spread throughout the internet like wildfire.
To be fair, calling this a leak is a bit of an understatement. At least for me, a leak implies that there was some sort of backdoor that was exploited to take advantage of flaws in security or that someone with insider knowledge broke their confidentiality. A leak suggests that there was some sort of a small oversight that led to an accidental release or malicious stealing of information. In this case, there was no such situation, as the ESA essentially left the front door open and offered the information publicly to anyone curious enough to look. This E3 leak was more of a breach of confidence and a failure to comply to even the most simple of privacy concerns, and it has terrible implications.
It’s hard say specifically what this E3 leak suggests about the Electronic Software Association and its attitude towards running the Electronic Entertainment Expo, but it definitely isn’t good. This sort of lazy approach to media relations implies that they have little regard for the safety and security of their most important attendees. It is as thought they either grossly underestimate the toxicity of the online community or are simply uneducated about the risks posed by publishing media information to the world.
In my case, this E3 leak really isn’t a huge deal, but it is an enormous problem for the video game press as a whole. I’ve since moved from my doxed address, have a screening service on my phone to cut down on spam callers, and have enough time to filter through my digital mailbox, but this would be a much different situation if I lived still lived at a permanent address and had a family like many members of the media do. I couldn’t tell you the number of times that some creep at a bar has heard that I’m a gaming journalist and followed me around while hoping to get a scoop, and its even scarier knowing that these people could now just show up at your doorstep. Even worse, members of the media now have to worry about real, physical repercussions from writing negative reviews by some of the most dedicated online fanbases and trolls. Its a dangerous time to be working for sites that post any kind of opinion, and the ESA made it that much worse for our industry.
Whether this is the final nail in the E3 coffin, it’s hard to tell. Every year, journalists gain another reason to skip the hectic Los Angeles event, be it digital-only presentations, Playstations absence, and now this E3 leak of media privacy. Just like most that publish content online, I was always aware of the risks, but I didn’t think it would be like this. Although nothing serious has happened yet, I have gained an unusual number of random twitter followers, which is slightly unnerving. One thing is for certain, next year the ESA is getting a fake address and a proxied number from me, if I go at all.