Top Gear, and I need something to write about. Lucky for me that Blizzard has given me the perfect topic -- MMO privacy. Thanks to a new development in their World of Warcraft Armory program, privacy advocates are up in arms and I've got a topic to discuss.
For all those of you who may be late to the game, Blizzard is adding RSS feeds to the Armory. Basically, the Armory will now report on the exact time you do an "Armory worthy" activity, such as boss kills, achievements, item pickups, and more. People can subscribe to your RSS feed, so then they know exactly when you do something in World of Warcraft.
This has, of course, sent privacy advocates into a tailspin of anger. There's no opt-out button for the Armory, so your playing style in World of Warcraft is going to be exposed whether you like it or not. The topic has even spawned a 59+ page thread on the European forums!
So what's my take on it? Well, I'm glad you asked. Here at Anti-Aliased, I've got nothing to hide.
I've got nothing to hide?
So let me explain. I opened this article (and subsequently titled this article) with the "nothing to hide" line because it's one of the main arguments people use against privacy infringement. (Thanks for the link via our tip line, Dave!) The idea here is that any "law-abiding citizen" has nothing to hide when it comes to intrusions of privacy. The government (or ruling entity, in our case) can pry all it wants into the lives of law abiding citizens and find nothing because the only people with things to hide are people who, well, have things to hide. People who are, perhaps, not so law-abiding at all.
However, privacy advocates push onwards. In our case of the Armory, people still beg Blizzard for an "opt-out" button on the Armory. They don't want information on their characters being shown in a public database, nor do they want an RSS feed that lets people track their every movement. They have their own counter-arguments as well, stating that such feeds aid the idea of "virtual stalking." Someone can watch exactly what you do in your favorite game, and that's a concept that unnerves more than just a few individuals.
Let's break down this argument for a moment
So let's talk privacy, shall we? It seems that privacy advocates are a bit too zealous when it comes to protecting their online activity. Now, please, don't take my words out of context. All I'm talking about here is your MMO activity log and nothing more. My arguments only pertain to what you do in your favorite games, like World of Warcraft.
Here's the main argument: people don't want to let others to know when they're playing. They think it promotes virtual stalking, as others can see exactly what they're doing in their favorite game, and they don't want people like their friends and family to know when and how much they're playing.
Obviously, they're bringing up a good point. Armory data is open to everyone, even if you don't have a World of Warcraft account. Anyone who knows your character name can easily go in, search for you, pull up your server, and look at exactly what you're doing and when you're doing it. A scary prospect, isn't it?
And here comes the retort...
It's a scary prospect... until you realize how absolutely frivolous that argument is. Let's take it step by step.
Online stalking can only happen if people know your character name. The main crux of this argument is that these people don't want their friends and family knowing how much or when they're playing their MMO of the week. However, how many of your parents know your character's name? In fact, let me take that a step further and ask why the heck would your parents even know your character name on your favorite MMO? Why would anyone really know your name except for your friends and those people you bragged about your character to? (Or, perhaps, the people who you brutally murdered in PvP. They might remember you.) Beyond all of this, need I mention what happens when your name is used on multiple servers? What if the stalker can't remember what server you play on? Stalking via name alone isn't so easy.
Anti-Aliased: I've got nothing to hide
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