Blizzard Hit With Privacy Suit

A lawsuit has been filed against Starcraft publisher Blizzard and its parent company Cendant for illegally extracting information from selected Battle.net users.

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Don't say we didn't tell you. An Albany, Calif., attorney has filed suit against Blizzard Entertainment and its parent company Cendant Corp. for extracting information from some users playing Starcraft over Battle.net.

The suit, filed by attorney Donald P. Driscoll in San Francisco County Court on April 27, is based on two sets of statutes: the California Business and Professions Code, and the California Penal Code.

The lawsuit alleges that Blizzard used a program to transmit user information without the users' permission.

Driscoll told GameSpot News Wednesday morning that he has been in touch with Blizzard attorneys by phone and fax and that they have indicated to him that they would not destroy records of Blizzard's past information acquisition activities. These records would be essential in determining culpability.

Driscoll, representing a non-profit consumer watch-dog organization called Intervention, Inc., is not asking for money damages but wants Blizzard to accept returns from Starcraft buyers for a full refund and to supply a new version of Starcraft without the part of the program that can upload registry information.

Driscoll said that a class action suit isn't out of the question, but that if Blizzard has deleted the uploaded information, it would be tough to prove who was damaged. Despite that, Driscoll says he has received some interest in a class action suit.

As GameSpot News reported earlier this month, rumors on the Web were that Blizzard was extracting information from the Windows Registry and sending information to Blizzard whenever a user connected to Battle.Net. Blizzard later partially confirmed the rumors but said that it only extracted the information when a user could not connect to its servers. If a user didn't connect, the user's e-mail address was sent to the company so its technical and customer support staff could help alleviate difficulties customers were having with playing the multiplayer mode of Starcraft.

Blizzard says that its only purpose was to determine how to alleviate users' problems and that it only extracted information for a seven-day period.

Driscoll thinks that the fact that Blizzard only used this practice for a week, "sounds like Blizzard's lawyers got involved. There is a practice in defense cases where the defense makes sure that it deletes any information that could be used to incriminated itself. Why else would Blizzard collect this information for seven days, stop, and then start deleting it?"

When contacted Wednesday morning, Blizzard limited its comments to the following statement: "We have been notified that papers have been filed. We have not been served. We cannot discuss matters in litigation."

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