E3 leaks personal information of thousands of journalists

Playstation character wall at E3 2018
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The personal details of thousands of journalists have been leaked by the organizers of E3. The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), which organizes the annual E3 gaming conference, had a publicly accessible document on its website which showed the names, phone numbers, and home addresses of journalists who registered for press badges at the event. The spreadsheet was available to anyone who clicked a button on the ESA website, compromising the security of over 2000 members of the press.

The leak was first spotted by YouTuber Sophia Narwitz, a games writer who published a video about the issue on Friday titled “The Entertainment Software Association just doxxed over 2000 journalists and content creators.” Narwitz said she felt it was her “journalistic duty to alert the public” and that she was “stunned that… the ESA had a document out in the open” which revealed so much information about journalists.

Narwitz says she contacted the ESA by phone and by email to let them know about the issue and that the organization pulled the web page but never responded to her.

The ESA did make a statement 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.”

As well as being an embarrassment for the ESA, the leak could also expose journalists to harassment or intimidation. The gaming community has a history of swatting and other extreme tactics which could pose a real danger to individuals whose information was leaked. In the long run, poor security could also make companies less willing to shell out large sums of money to appear at E3 events in the future.

It is possible that the leak could be a breach of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which could result in a large fine.

Anyone who attended E3 under a press badge should be aware that their information may now be public, including some game developers and streamers as well as members of the press.

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