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Gamers propose punishing Blizzard by flooding it with GDPR requests (reddit.com)
178 points by rahuldottech 13 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 107 comments

I have a Hearthstone package on NPM which gets a few downloads everyday (also from China). Yesterday I removed everything in it and now module.exports is „光復香港 時代革命“ instead of Hearthstone data.


Perhaps you want to rebase your changes to the root of your Git repo (in other words, remove history). Now people can just check out the HEAD^ commit.

I don't like using GitHub for politics.

Everything is politics. Your decision to try ignoring politics is quiet assent to the status quo, which is the politics of least resistance.

Your protest against someone taking a stand against authoritarian rule is itself politics.

Your decision to use one licence over another when using or publishing software is politics.

Everything is politics, because everything that involves more than one person is politics and the decision to do something without other people is politics.

Everyrhing is politics, but politics isn’t everything.

How is this politics. This is a stand against a tyrant, this has nothing to do with political opinions. As a human being you have an obligation to stand against tyrants, nothing political about that.

Taking a stance on a governing bodies actions is clearly politics. In what way could it possibly not?

As an example, if your government instructed you to separate parents from their child, you could refuse, without any political motivations.

If you consider this a difference of opinion between the government and you, then yes, it may be political. In my view core values are not political, because you can't argue for and against them.

Core values values applied to governance decisions is exactly what a political stance is.

Refusing to obey that order from your government is a political decision.

I'd argue that this is completely and absolutely political. Just deciding that this guy is a tyrant is political.

Not doing anything is also political. Everything is political in social context.

Maybe you are right.

In my mind you have to do something when you see blatant injustice, so it is justified. If you say that what I judge as unjust is political, then fair enough, it may very well be.

Everything you do is directly or indirectly part of politics. Your action and inaction both.

Not really. Perhaps for people that could be true, but not for businesses.

As a business, you absolutely don't have to declare your stand on the political issues in your country, let alone issues in some places half way across the world.

And especially declare your stand when you're not asked.

As a business, if you don't declare your stance on a political issue, you declare you agree with whatever the status quo is.

Hacking culture and politics are deeply entwined. Phreaking, for example, was a way to say no to AT&T monopoly.

I don't like you politicizing how people choose to use GitHub.

I would also suggest cancelling your account, even if you intend on reopening it later. These kind of events are short lived; you need a seemingly strong drive of people who want to cancel their accounts, even it is only for short while. Maximum impact is what the CEO and management can see now and en masse.

Here's an easy way to send a GDPR erasure request: https://opt-out.eu/?company=activision.com

Thank you very much.

I tried to have my account and data deleted but they ask for an ID proof upload in order to proceed... Funnily, I no not want to send them more data about myself in order to have what they already have be deleted. As the formats supported include txt, I uploaded a complaint about this but the ticket is pending.

So I've just used your link. We'll see if that speeds up the process :)

Can you do this even if you are not an EU resident?

Even if such requests are ultimately discarded, it would slightly increase the burden they have to process such requests.

I really think cancelling accounts would be more effective.

A mass request like is being proposed would just make Blizzard script out a response.

I'm canceling my account! I'm a long time Blizz fan, and ex-WoW player, who still pays for my account for some sentimental reason.

I just resubscribed for classic. Cancelled this morning.

You need to upload your ID to cancel the account or to revoke permissions to process personal data based on GDPR. Upload Winnie-the-Pooh instead.

Why don't people just end their subscriptions? A financial hit will get their attention.

Because most of them don't want to give up playing the games.

Are you thinking of other Activision/Blizzard properties?

Hearthstone itself is free-to-play. The most a player can do is not spend future money.

Being player in multiplayer game is indirectly providing support by being opponent to other players. Multiplayer games die off due to too little pool of available players.

The problem is all recent blizzard games require a net connection, so it's not terminating your subscription, but rather stop playing games that you have already paid for.

If you stop playing Hearthstone (the game at the heart of this controversy), you stop paying for new expansions. Even if you're free to play, you deny them a player for matchmaking (every game is a live match between two people). If enough people quit, the game will die.

I think there are still pirate servers out there.

But that would be illegal - I was initially thinking of this as a joke in the replay, but then I realized under US law at least this would be a crime.

To be clear: a company can arbitrarily break something you paid for by terminating your account, or just taking the servers online, that is completely legal. That company can then sue you if you connect to someone else's servers or bring up your own, because that is illegal copyright infringement or contractual violation (and possibly CFAA violation because idiocy).

If you paid for the game client(wow) it is not illegal to play in private servers

In the US, it is illegal (copyright infringement) to run a private server.


And given that, a lawyer could argue that paying to play on (or even donating to) a private server is contributory copyright infringement. I don't know if that has been tested in court.


But oftentimes you can get away with it; few game companies go after small private servers.

You mean Diablo and Starcraft? They do cost money, yet still require access to Blizzard servers, and running on separate servers is a T&C violation, which the DoJ considers a violation of the CFAA.

Jaywalking is also illegal.

Not in CA :D

I really hope you take your "hackery" elsewhere.


They can do both.

If they're actually flooded with requests, someone will likely create a quick set of scripts once and they'll handle it semi automatically soon. Blizzard is a software company, they know how to do that. I'm not sure it will impact them in any significant way.

It's never a quick script for a big company.

I'd hate to be the engineer who has to talk to all people and ask them about how they are processing user data, where are they storing logs, what happens to it.... it's the most boring work you can imagine for a programmer.

At the same time it's great that people can learn about these things.

I fully agree with your first statement - not so much with the second one: data hacking can be fun!

But yeah there are no quick scripts in corporate software, even though Blizzard claims to use agile development I doubt the effectiveness of it. I remember some small vital features/fixes in world of warcraft would be delayed to next expension because "they already had a road map in place" - agile my ass lol.

Data hacking is fun.

But what about reading law, understanding if your company is compliant to the law or not, making those compliance changes, and knowing that if you made a mistake the company takes a huge financial responsibility?

My girlfriend was doing these things for her 2 person software company, and she was more scared about making a mistake than having fun.

>I remember some small vital features/fixes in world of warcraft would be delayed to next expension because "they already had a road map in place"

That might just be their polite way of saying "lol bugger off, I'm busy".

Those conversations and boring meeting should already have taken place.

I don’t actually think that work is boring at all. Moreover I think it behooves us all to change the prevailing attitude and perception of this type of work; it can be quite technically complex and it is very impactful both to the business as well as more importantly on the moral/ethical front.

I am biased of course as I work on various aspects of GDPR compliance, data retention and deletion, encryption compliance, etc. I used to think this stuff was really boring compared to high scalability, graphics, schedulers etc. (all of which I have worked on in past lives); lately I think it is both interesting and crucially important hence my comment.

It is important and complex and hard work, I never questend that. I questioned the ,,just a quick script'' part actually.

But I doubt that it can be as interesting as working on the game engine where you get visual feedback.

If you look at the software market, there are lots of stories about game programmers being underpayed compared to other programmers even when they have better knowledge about the inner workings of the computer hardware. There is a valid reason for it.

I'm curious what you think about GDPR compliance when user data has made its way into a ML model via training. Do we have to retrain without?, etc

That's simple. If it is a model that was trained with only that person's data and is therefore connected to it, it is PII (personally identifiable data) and must be deleted.

If the model aggregates the data of multiple people and is disconnected from the individual it does not constitute PII and can be kept.

Generally there are rules about using only anonymized and aggregated data in ML systems inside corporations that are reviewed by lawyers.

Also if you are using the data to help the user, and it's explained to the user, it is legal. But I'm not a GDPR expert, others here on HN know much more about it.

They already did. These people will just be redirected to https://eu.battle.net/support/en/help/product/services/1327

Maybe, but probably not without somehow leaking the relevant personal information first.

And that’s good. Self-service for your legal rights is important functionality.

I see that BlizzCon's coming up. Like last year I'm sure there'll be ample opportunity to give the company a bloody nose.

Let's see if people remember that long, or if this is just flash in the pan.

If South Park decide to make China a recurring plot point over the next month someone might.

It's less than a month away. If protests are still going on in HK by then (which seems likely), I can see BlizzCon going south real quick.

What happened last year?

Everyone was expecting a Diablo 4 announcement but they demoed a crappy Diablo mobile game instead. The audience took them to task over it and Activision stock took a hit.

Here's a short video with some summary https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmkHAlhCvWg

The second part has some interesting reactions from fans, counter reactions from blizzard. This moment has rocked the gaming community, and generated some memes on the internet.

I doubt this would actually work as intended, but it's fun to see novel approaches to weaponizing the legal system against large corporations like this.

I am curious since people are saying that Blizzard will just write a script to deal with all the requests, I was wondering is there a list of European names with addresses and emails and such that the request they are sending is asking for? If such a list did exist then could not someone script something to automatically swamp Blizzard, or any company for that matter?

It's only legal to make a subject data request for your own data.

You would simply respond to those sending the request.

I'm all for protesting this against blizzard. Stop playing their games, stop watching it on Twitch or YouTube, organize protests outside their offices and at blizzcon. But abusing GDPR seems like the wrong way to go about it, should cause virtually no impact to them financially or publicly and can only create arguments to limit GDPR protections

I don't like that GDPR is being abused like this. It will only hurt GDPR and likely not hurt the intended target at all and if it works it will encourage more abuse which will lead to GDPR being softened.

My point is that we should use GDPR for what it was made for and use other means to put pressure on Blizzard.

What about a flood of small claims court? In USA it may be more effective?

Claims for what?

People would also have to leave their house and go make an argument in front of a judge... seems unlikely.

what crime or contract violation have they committed? My (NAL) understanding is you can't sue/take-to-small-claims a service or company because of what they did to someone else. Only victims of malfeasance can go to court - even class actions need a number of people who are directly effected to start the lawsuit, before subsequently extending the small scale case to a class action.

In this case modern T&Cs give companies carte blanche to dry service to anyone for any (or no) reason, so you'd have to demonstrate it was a bias against a protected classification - race, gender, maybe age - but even then, US courts have repeatedly stated that the constitution applies only to US citizens.

You can sue anyone for anything.

Even filing small claims costs money, and the cases would promptly be thrown out.

That sounds like the text-book definition of frivolous litigation.

Small claims is for actual money being owed.

A modest proposal: what if companies advocated neither for left wing nor for right wing politics? They could, for example, produce a product instead.

Neutrality always favors the tyrant.

There is no apolitical position in a situation like this.

Not even "the tyrant", it always favors the status quo. I do agree that there is no apolitical position here, I would even argue that everything we do, or not do, is political to some level.

The argument against that is usually that not choosing this side means choosing the other side. There is no place fir neutral ground in the reality of those who's identity relies on ideology, it's "for us or against us".

About time gamers did something useful.

Like protest against a fellow gamer being denied access to a gaming platform? Given your premise it's hard to see the logic.

He essentially lost his job for political speech.

See the NBA story from today where the NBA refused to censor a player for supporting HK. See why this isn't just about "a gamer"?

I know it's not just about a gamer. The poster I was replying to seems to think that gamers are useless, ie irrelevant. My question was why they thought that gamers attacking a gaming platform for their treatment of another gamer (for whatever reason) was suddenly a thing of relevance (in their view).


Stop generalizing. 99% of the issues in today's world are there because of bad generalizations.

He lost his job for using an official stream to push his politics. That's a huge difference that everybody is deciding to ignore for some reason... outrage culture I guess.

Thanks for reminding everybody that corporations are authoritarian regimes and that workers are expected to check their human rights at the door.

Political speech they agree with.

We crossed these sorts of lines long ago but it was political speech they disagreed with then, so it's only bad now. If everyone had been more inclined to defend peoples right to views they don't agree with then we wouldn't be here now.

Plenty here were fine with Stallman being fired over his personal views, now they're seeing the other side.

Your argument is people should be just as upset by things which don't upset them as they are by things which do upset them.

It's a weird argument.

It's not that they should be just as upset, it's that they don't have any sort of principled stance and are in the cheer squad when the same thing is happening to the other side. They cheer people losing jobs because they disagree with them and get upset that the same thing happens to people they agree with, at least at the group level.

Should you be able to lose your job, be cutoff from a private service, be banned from a project because of your public opinions? It's a yes/no question and modern society appears to be converging on yes. This is a consequence of that decision. An easy to see consequence that many of us warned about but got drowned out of the conversation being called racists, christian fundamentalist, pedophile apologists and everything else when we speak for their rights.

So congratulations to the people that cheered Stallmans firing, various de-platforming techniques, codes of conduct, etc, you've normalized this and given the CCP all the weapons they need to control speech in the west.

You don't seem to think it's possible to be for "deplatforming" someone, and against "deplatforming" someone else. That's an odd take. I fail to see how that's incompatible.

I think it's possible, just hypocritical and ultimately self defeating. This is an example of how it's self defeating.

For the last decade the left could have been focusing on extending worker protections and putting some hard lines on their personal opinions and what the can be punished for at work. Instead they've made corporations the morality police, and ultimately they only listen to money.

I believe the parent is saying that the claims to be "against deplatforming" are fake when the same people happily supported deplatforming before. It's just a tactic to say that deplatforming itself is bad, what they actually mean is "deplatforming someone I like is bad". Saying that is fine, pretending it's more than that is dishonest.

I don't believe I've seen anyone say that they're against deplatforming, while being for deplatforming.

What I think instead is that people who were against previous de-platforming (whatever their reason) want to use this situation, which is obviously egregious and cowardly on the part of Blizzard, to muddy the water.

Isn't that the same, only in reverse? "Oh you're not okay with deplatforming, you're only saying that because you disagree with the person deplatformed this time".

It's hard to prove the innermost opinions, but I do believe that there's a lot of outrage coming, among others, from people who are absolutely fine with deplatforming and consider it a valid tactic but don't consider that player a valid target. There definitely are others who are against deplatforming on principle. They are consistent, but I don't think all are. Of course, anybody can change their mind any time, and if this incident converts the proponents of deplatforming, then the next case will be very different.

I doubt this incident would sour people on the general idea of de-platforming, anymore than people would sour on the concept of prison if someone innocent was found incarcerated.

De-platforming is a consequence, and the debate is not "is de-platforming OK?" but "when is de-platforming OK?"

Good thing I can staunchly say that I am against all deplatforming, and have been since it started happening.

Is justifying child molestation a political act now?

*protest against a fellow gamer being denied access to a gaming platform because of censorship from an authoritarian government.

*because of the platform's fears of the economic repercussions of displeasing an authoritarian government

The gamer didn't get censored by the Chinese government. A private company banned him because they decided they would rather do business with China than not do business with China.

That's a huge difference. China is free to make their own rules for when they do business with foreigners. Just like how the US enforces sanctions. Germany is free to business with, say, Iran, but if they do that then the USA is going to not do any business with Germany. So Germany has to decide whether they want to do business with the USA or Iran more. Is that censorship too?

I wouldn't say it's censorship per se, since in that case the US isn't trying to suppress the speech of Germany, though it is similar. It also involves two countries whereas in this case we're talking between a company and a country. I think the power balance is different between the two. Particularly with a relatively large economy like Germany. Embargoing Germany would affect the US materially, whereas ceasing business with a company will not affect a country unless it is extremely large and strategically important.

A better theoretical might be if say the US were to force a company to choose between speech supporting a political dissident (maybe Snowden?) and doing business with the US. Not too hard to imagine really, and it would be censorship.

Yes, it's censorship. It's just censorship-by-proxy rather than censorship originating from their own personal stance. The Chinese government may be the root cause, but everyone involved is still complicit in the censorship, even of they're slightly less to blame. No one is forcing them to work with China, regardless of their economic best interests. (Stockholders demanding they make the most revenue possible isn't a valid defense.)

> Stockholders demanding they make the most revenue possible isn't a valid defense

Valid in which sense? And is the logical extension of your position not a complete ban on trade with China?

Blizzard is partially owned by TenCent. So actually it is the Chinese government.

Only 5% though.

The protest is not just for denying access to a fellow gamer, but the company's stance supporting an authoritarian government suppressing human rights and censoring free information. People have a right to boycott an organization when their money is used for something like this.

> People have a right to boycott an organization when their money is used for something like this.

Of course they do, but there is no mention of a boycott in the article.

> Of course they do, but there is no mention of a boycott in the article.

This is not the only article on this topic, nor the only thread of conversation about this.

Did they support an authoritarian government, or do they simply prohibit their tournaments from being used for activism?

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