Tips for video gamers from Canada’s privacy commish
Canada’s privacy commissioner says that some video-game companies have privacy policies that don’t say anything about what they do with personal data after players deactivate their accounts.
Jennifer Stoddart released today (November 5) a “guidance” document on privacy and gaming consoles, which notes gaming companies are disclosing personal information to a wide variety of third parties, including contracted programmers based around the world, financial institutions, call centres for tech support, advertisers, and law-enforcement agents.
Stoddart put out this list of tips for players of multiplayer games:
• Given that personal information is part of many gaming profiles, it is best to use strong passwords (for example, capital and small letters, numbers and symbols where applicable);
• As most user accounts require credit card information, players should check their statements regularly and contact the gaming company or console service immediately if there are transactions they are unsure about;
• When consoles or individual games offer detailed privacy controls, users should examine them closely and choose wisely. For example, users may opt to restrict profile visibility only to players who they actually know in real life;
• While many gaming networks now enable gamers to tie their gaming accounts to social networking sites, players should read the associated privacy policies and user agreements to find out what will be shared with whom; and
• As many multiplayer games allow text and voice chatting between players, users should adjust their privacy settings to block other gamers who might be abusive while taking advantage of systems that invite players to report incidents directly to gaming networks in order to help curb online harassment.
According to the office of the privacy commissioner, using a pseudonym may be advisable if permitted by a particular game.