The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the North American games industry body whose responsibilities include organising E3, have quasi-accidentally leaked personal details of over two thousand people. The names, addresses, phone numbers, and more of folks who registered for E3 2019 media badges [disclosure: including some of our own] were posted online in a spreadsheet that apparently anyone could download. The ESA, who also lobby governments on behalf of big publishers and founded the ESRB ratings board, have not apologised but do say they “regret this occurrence.” Oh that’s fine, then.
As YouTuber Sophia Narwitz pointed out, the private details were available for goodness-knows-how-long on a publicly-accessible webpage through a link titled “registered media list.” That led to a spreadsheet with names, company names, e-mail addresses, physical addresses, and more for a reported 2025 journalists, bloggers, YouTubers, streamers, financial analysts, and such.
The media list is meant to be a private one used by games industry folks to arrange demonstrations, interviews, meetings and such at E3. Now it’s public, I don’t doubt it’ll find an unpleasant new use.
The ESA gave a garbage response to VentureBeat:
“ESA was made aware of a website vulnerability that led to the contact list of registered journalists attending E3 being made public. Once notified, we immediately took steps to protect that data and shut down the site, which is no longer available. We regret this occurrence and have put measures in place to ensure it will not occur again.”
They may have pulled the list, but evidently it got out and could be passed around. You can’t close the door on leaked data.
The ESA’s non-apology and expression of regret will be of little comfort to those affected, and especially those worrying that their home address or phone number (if they didn’t use business details) may now be in the hands of fraudsters, identity thieves, or self-appointed sworn enemies. Hasn’t been the greatest of fun being in the games media over the past few years, you might have heard. Wider tides of culture not mad keen on the media either. Good-o.
We’ll have to see if anyone wants to whack the ESA’s knuckles or wallet with data protection laws.
Thanks, ESA. Nice one. Smashed it.