LOS ANGELES (CN) - Publishers of "World of Warcraft" and other blockbuster video games make millions by "deceptively and unfairly" charging customers for an after-sale security product to protect their private information from hackers, a class action claims in Federal Court.
Lead plaintiff Benjamin Bell sued Blizzard Entertainment, of Irvine, and its corporate parent, Santa Monica-based Activision Blizzard.
Bell seeks class damages for consumer fraud, unjust enrichment, negligence, breach of contract and bailment. He claims that the same security problem, and after-market fix, occurs in defendants' games "Starcraft" and "Diablo."
Bell claims that game players have to pay $6.40 for a product called the Authenticator to protect their private information from hackers.
Sales of Authenticators, which come as a physical product or download, have brought in $26 million, according to the complaint.
Bell claims that Activision and Blizzard require gamers to use online accounts at the Battle.net website, which collects and stores customers' private information.
Blizzard puts the onus on gamers to buy additional products or tighten security on their devices, rather than making customer accounts more secure, Bell claims.
"Defendants negligently, deliberately, and/or recklessly fail to ensure that adequate, reasonable procedures safeguard the private information stored on this website. As a result of these acts, the private information of plaintiffs and class members has been compromised and/or stolen since at least 2007," according to the 33-page complaint.
"Most recently, on or about May 19, 2012, reports proliferated that class members' Battle.net accounts had suffered a security breach ('hack') at the hands of unknown parties ('hackers'), and on or about August 4, 2012, hackers massively breached Battle.net's security and acquired the private information of all of defendants' customers in the United States, as well as the remainder of North America, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia."
Though account details for millions of gamers were compromised or stolen, Bell says, neither Activision nor Blizzard took "the legally required steps to alert" gamers.
Bell seeks class damages and an injunction to bar the defendants from "tacking on" undisclosed costs after customers have bought games, and from requiring them to sign up for Battle.net accounts.
The class is represented by Hank Bates with Carney Williams Bates Pulliam & Bowman, of Little Rock, Ark.
Activision Blizzard did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.http://www.courthous...11/08/52109.htm
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Lawsuit alleges Blizzard "deceptively and unfairly" charged players to secure their data.
Blizzard is being sued over the Battle.net authentication used in multiple games including Diablo III
. A class action suit led by plaintiff Benjamin Bell is seeking damages for "consumer fraud, unjust enrichment, negligence, breach of contract and bailment," claiming that Blizzard is "deceptively and unfairly" charging some users to secure their data from hackers.
Bell is specifically referring to Blizzard’s $6.50 keychain authenticators
, alleging that Blizzard has made $26 million by selling them. The suit accuses Blizzard of unfairly requiring users to use Battle.net and says the company has continued to “negligently, deliberately, and/or recklessly fail to ensure that adequate, reasonable procedures safeguard the private information stored on this website.” Bell points to multiple hacking incidents -- including May’s Diablo III hacks
-- as evidence that Blizzard failed to take "the legally required steps to alert" players.
Bell is seeking damages and an injunction to bar Blizzard from “tacking on” costs after games have already been purchased. He also seeks to stop Blizzard from requiring players to sign up for a Battle.net account.
We reached out to Blizzard about the suit and a spokesperson sent IGN the following statement:"This suit is without merit and filled with patently false information, and we will vigorously defend ourselves through the appropriate legal channels.We want to reiterate that we take the security of our players’ data very seriously, and we’re fully committed to defending our network infrastructure. We also recognize that the cyber-threat landscape is always evolving, and we’re constantly working to track the latest developments and make improvements to our defenses.The suit’s claim that we didn’t properly notify players regarding the August 2012 security breach is not true. Not only did Blizzard act quickly to provide information to the public about the situation, we explained the actions we were taking and let players know how the incident affected them, including the fact that no names, credit card numbers, or other sensitive financial information was disclosed. You can read our letter to players and a comprehensive FAQ related to the situation on our website.The suit also claims that the Battle.net Authenticator is required in order to maintain a minimal level of security on the player’s Battle.net account information that’s stored on Blizzard’s network systems. This claim is also completely untrue and apparently based on a misunderstanding of the Authenticator’s purpose. The Battle.net Authenticator is an optional tool that players can use to further protect their Battle.net accounts in the event that their login credentials are compromised outside of Blizzard’s network infrastructure. Available as a physical device or as a free app for iOS or Android devices, it offers players an added level of security against account-theft attempts that stem from sources such as phishing attacks, viruses packaged with seemingly harmless file downloads, and websites embedded with malicious code.When a player attaches an Authenticator to his or her account, it means that logging in to Battle.net will require the use of a random code generated by the Authenticator in addition to the player’s login credentials. This helps our systems identify when it’s actually the player who is logging in and not someone who might have stolen the player’s credentials by means of one of the external theft measures mentioned above, or as a result of the player using the same account name and password on another website or service that was compromised. Considering that players are ultimately responsible for securing their own computers, and that the extra step required by the Authenticator is an added inconvenience during the log in process, we ultimately leave it up to the players to decide whether they want to add an Authenticator to their account. However, we always strongly encourage it, and we try to make it as easy as possible to do.Many players have voiced strong approval for our security-related efforts. Blizzard deeply appreciates the outpouring of support it has received from its players related to the frivolous claims in this particular suit."http://ca.ign.com/ar...-authentication