Another ESA-esque Journalist Data Leak Is Just Waiting to Happen

ESA leak

Over the weekend a major data leak took place at the Entertainment Software Association. Personal information of over 2000 video game journalists, editors, YouTuber, streamers, and other content creators was posted online.

The official E3 website published a spreadsheet containing the contact information and personal addresses of everyone. The information is shared with the ESA when a journalist signs up for E3. While it is a horrible situation that takes place, it is astonishing it took so long for something to like this to happen.

What makes matters worse is that this can happen any time, again. At any big gaming event attending journalists share their information with the organizers. That information doesn’t stay with the organizers and is shared with all exhibitors at the event. ESA is just one point of the leak but there are countless others that could leak journalist info.

Events like Gamescom, PAX, E3, PlayStation Experience, EA PLAY, and many others could end up accidentally sharing personal information of journalists.

Names, Phones numbers, email addresses, and other information are bounced around from one exhibitor to the other and at any point, it could end up on the internet.

Many journalists who sign up for events aren’t aware of this piece of information that private data is shared with a ton of exhibitors. Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Co-founder Jim Rossignol says often his personal email gets added to press lists even though he never signed up for that particular event. This is because journalist information is shared around quite frequently without much data-protection in place.

People who sign-up often don’t read the sign-up agreements which clarify which data the organization is allowed to share with its partners.

It is the same issue as a gamer not reading the Terms of Service before sign-up for an online game or service. It is a common practice not to read which puts all of us at risk. Sharing private information is a common practice in many industries to generate leads for future business.

Of course, not all event organizers share your information without consent but the only way to know who does, and what information is shared, is to go through the sign-up agreement or ToS.