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Man Tracked Down and Arrested Via WoW

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the time-to-bubble-hearth dept.

Games 464

kabome writes with this excerpt from a story about an alleged drug dealer who was located by law enforcement thanks to World of Warcraft: "Roberson’s subpoena was nothing more than a politely worded request, considering the limits of his law enforcement jurisdiction and the ambiguity of the online world. 'They don’t have to respond to us, and I was under the assumption that they wouldn’t,' said Roberson. ... Blizzard did more than cooperate. It gave Roberson everything he needed to track down Hightower, including his IP address, his account information and history, his billing address, and even his online screen name and preferred server. From there it was a simple matter to zero in on the suspect's location."

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conundrum (5, Insightful)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620224)

Not sure what is worse, the dealer, or Blizzard. I'd hazard a guess that Blizzard has ruined more lives than this dealer has. Though the cops will word a request to sound like a subpoena to the uninitiated.

Re:conundrum (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620238)

Is this even a question? Blizzard is the greater evil for bowing down to law enforcement unnecessarily. This guy isn't a robber or murderer. I suppose that defending a drug dealer's privacy wouldn't be good PR but I don't think there is much question that the "War on Drugs" has ruined far more lives than Blizzard and the drug dealer combined.

Re:conundrum (3, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620402)

Giving information to law enforcement is not "bowing down." The police are working for us, they are our employees. I know this is a hard concept for some people to grasp, since from the time you are a kid the 'authorities,' who at that time are your parents, are always preventing you from doing what you want, but the fact is police are agents of society, they are not our enemies, they do the job we give them. You of course know that police would stop arresting people for doing drugs as soon as we make selling drugs legal. It's our choice. Cooperating with the police to do a job we give them is not evil. Cooperating when they step outside their bounds is evil, and giving them an evil job to do is evil, but evil is very often no more than an opinion.

The fact is, the majority of the population favors keeping drugs illegal. If you want to change the law, all you have to do is convince people that drugs should be legalized. Few politicians are willing to bring up the topic of legalization because they know they will be voted out of office if they do.

Re:conundrum (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620456)

A man with a gun who is paid to try to lock me in cage for smoking taboo plants is *not* on my side or working for me in any capacity, turd-chomper. Now go kill yourself.

Re:conundrum (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620470)

stop bowing down to fascism you fucking pig

Re:conundrum (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620482)

I dislike the way that you talk about good and evil, as if you have some absolute ethical system to base this on. I think it would be easier to understand if you tried to argue whether or not the actions of Blizzard and the police were moral acts or not. I would also include in your argument whether or not Blizzard or the police lost anything of moral value with their actions.

Your argument on the morality of the police's actions (and cooperating with them) is flawed because you base that morality on the morality of the general public and their laws as if they are infallible. Additionally, you need to evaluate each act of cooperation individually. If Blizzard volunteered information that lead a peaceful Chinese dissident to be arrested, most people would think that would be immoral. On the other hand, if Blizzard volunteered information that lead a child pornographer to be arrested, most people would think that would be moral. Still others would view both as immoral because Blizzard should have an inherent duty to protect information and our system already provides a mechanism (a warrant) to get that information when it is needed.

My view is the later, and I also view our laws on drugs as immoral. Cooperating with police with observations is one thing, mining your data is another. I think it is immoral to release protected information about someone without a warrant.

Re:conundrum (-1, Offtopic)

webuggshoe (1711644) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620496)

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Re:conundrum (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620590)

Guh. Is there a "-1 Spam" mod, or should I be emailing the admins?

Re:conundrum (2, Insightful)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620498)

yeah doing the job we give them includes tazering the fuck out anyone from the kids to the feeble

we give them orders but positions of authority pervert thinking.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment [wikipedia.org]

Re:conundrum (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620570)

It's "Power corrupts" as usual, and it's true for any amount of power.

Re:conundrum (-1, Offtopic)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620584)

People who are afraid of tasering have a significantly distorted perception of risk. Seriously, consider how many people have died from tasers in the last decade (Amnesty International puts it at 277 over 7 years [wikipedia.org] ): significantly more have died from being in a skyscraper when an airplane crashed into it. Learning to deal correctly with risk will help you keep from getting suckered into wars on false pretenses. I wish more people would do it.

Re:conundrum (-1, Offtopic)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620652)

You really are a bootlicker.

It isn't about being afraid of being personally tasered - whether it causes death or is just used for torture.
It's about being afraid for the health of our society because of the prevalence of abuse by the people wearing those boots.

Re:conundrum (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620502)

You raise good points but you discount the fact that police forces are only a necessary evil of a modern society. Police are in theory there to "protect citizens" - but often times in practice the goal of protecting citizens puts them at odds against citizen's rights.

In a perfect "police" world the police would know everything about you and be able to monitor everything that you do. Then they could perfectly catch criminal acts. Is this an idyllic situation? No - because we do not live in a perfect world and because police are not perfect (especially considering that the police actively discriminate against intelligence [ananova.com] ).

There is a reason why the constitution outlines a good deal of protections against the police. Police left unfettered will continue to grow in influence and power and intrude further into citizen's lives. It is a fine balance between accounting for the marginal increase in personal liberties as a result of police stopping the intrusion of liberties of an individual committing a crime and the marginal loss of personal liberties from the police having the tools to stop the aforementioned crime.

In regards to the "majority of people" wanting drugs to be illegal - when you create a positive feedback loop of turning drug users into criminals it makes it relatively difficult to break the cycle. The majority of people in this country are against gay marriage as well: does this mean that gay marriage should be illegal? There is a reason that the United States is a Republic and not a pure democracy. In the words of Alexander Hamilton - the masses are asses. Irrational fears often overcome rational deduction. All you have to do is look at segregation, Japanese internment camps, and the Salem Witch Trials to realize that majority rule is not always the right way to go about deciding things in emotionally charged and sensitive matters.

Re:conundrum (1)

Etcetera (14711) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620622)

The majority of people in this country are against gay marriage as well: does this mean that gay marriage should be illegal^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H not be legalized.

There... fixed that for ya.

Re:conundrum (1, Offtopic)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620640)

OK, these are some interesting ideas:

The majority of people in this country are against gay marriage as well: does this mean that gay marriage should be illegal?

I don't personally care if it is legal or not. I'll vote to let them get married, because I have no reason to stop them, but I don't care if they can't. But this is the thing about democracy: if the gays want to change the law, they have to convince the rest of the country (enough of them) that it is a good idea. If they can't, they won't be able to change the law. It really is that simple.

All you have to do is look at segregation, Japanese internment camps, and the Salem Witch Trials to realize that majority rule is not always the right way

People like to bring up the example of segregation, but by the time segregation was overturned, the majority of the country was actually opposed to it. I am not going to say that bad things don't happen in democracy, but they happen in every other type of government too, usually worse. We are living in a society with a bunch of other people, and living with other people is never easy.

In the words of Alexander Hamilton - the masses are asses. Irrational fears often overcome rational deduction.

Of course he felt that way: the masses disagreed with him. It is the old logical fallacy of, "those who disagree with me are wrong." That doesn't mean a minority can rule any more competently than the majority: for an example of this look at Iran right now.

There is a reason that the United States is a Republic and not a pure democracy.

It is, but that does little more than slow down the speed of the implementation of the public's will. If the public feels strongly about an issue, and their representatives go against their will, the representative will be gone quickly. The best example of that recently is perhaps Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska [wsj.com] .

Re:conundrum (1)

scapermoya (769847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620516)

this has little to do with the alleged crimes. if anything, they indicate to me that the guy wasn't really that bad. have you seen the kinds of things on those low schedules?

regardless, this has to do with a company handing over personal information without the laws that govern that company saying they had to. ergo, bowing down.

Re:conundrum (0)

Requiem18th (742389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620550)

Giving information to law enforcement is not "bowing down." The police are working for us, they are our employees.

1) Law enforcement police works for the government works for corporations. You'd have to get rid of the whole concept of lobbing before I even consider admitting the police as "ours".

2) The very law they are supposed to protect requires them to get an order before making a subpeona for such information, which mean they must have a justifiable reason to make such request which means that, by definition they seeked information they where not allowed to get and had no justification to seek.

3) Did Blizzard comply because they believe in the police or because they were afraid of reprisals? You assume Blizzard acted in good faith and sheer belief in the infallibility of law enforcement, as if police agencies weren't know for harassing people for being uncooperative.

If a well known murderous thug asked you politely for your wallet does it count as robbery? Not for you since the thug didn't really do anything wrong. I'd suspect his historial of killing people had something to do with it.

But... I know this is a hard concept for some people to grasp, since from the time you are a kid the 'authorities,' who at that time are your parents genuinely love and try to help you.

Re:conundrum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620568)

"1) Law enforcement police works for the government works for corporations. You'd have to get rid of the whole concept of lobbing before I even consider admitting the police as "ours"."

Ideological organisations do not lobby? Labour unions do not lobby?

Can I ask, just what is your definition of "lobbying"?

Re:conundrum (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620634)

bottom line is that this data is blizzards to hand over, and they made the choice to do so. law enforcement are perfectly within their rights to ASK for co operation, there's no law against it. if you refuse they have the option of asking for a court order to force you.

how the fuck are the police going to harrass blizzard anyway? bliz is a billion dollar company they would unleash a +100 epic lawyer spell on the police if they tried to.

you ranting reeks of the typical daddy didn't love me enough now i'm going to rebel against everything crap so common these days.

Re:conundrum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620588)

"You of course know that police would stop arresting people for doing drugs as soon as we make selling drugs legal." ...
"Cooperating when they step outside their bounds is evil, and giving them an evil job to do is evil, but evil is very often no more than an opinion."

Yes, and my opinion, as is others, is that it is evil. In fact, the post which you're responding to, shows his opinion distinctly.

So, to summarise your post, the original post was correct in characterizing it as "bowing down", by your own logic.

There... saved us some time.

Re:conundrum (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620410)

I'd hazard a guess that Blizzard has ruined more lives than this dealer has.

Nonsense.

but I don't think there is much question that the "War on Drugs" has ruined far more lives than Blizzard and the drug dealer combined.

Nonsense.

Re:conundrum (1)

Xaduurv (1685700) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620312)

Oh my KINGDOM for a mod point! ...or at least some of that smooth SMOOTH WoW...

Re:conundrum (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620324)

If the drug use/video game playing is voluntary then I'd say it was the user who was ruining their own life. The law should have only got involved if there was fraud or general violence involved.

Re:conundrum (2, Informative)

jkells (1004385) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620338)

RTFA, he did get a subpoena. Due the jurisdiction and ambiguity of the online world they didn't have to respond to the subpoena, the subpoena was more of a polite request because they didn't have to co-operate with it.

Re:conundrum (1)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620466)

It's not a subpoena [wikipedia.org] if you don't have to co-operate with it.

A subpoena is a writ issued by a court that commands the presence of a witness to testify, under a penalty for failure.

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620226)

Blizzard is giving information out to police outside of their jurisdiction? Privacy means nothing to these fucktards.

TOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620228)

I wonder if Blizzard was released from liability through a TOS agreement on WOW. This shouldn't have been done without a subpoena.

Re:TOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620256)

Hey, this is some great stuff. Can you pump out another 40 minutes worth?

Regards, Dick Wolf

Impropriety (3, Insightful)

Raindance (680694) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620248)

One has to wonder, if Blizzard goes that far above and beyond requests of law enforcement and gives mountains of data in response to polite requests-- not even subpoenas-- how seriously do they take the privacy of *your* personal information?

I'm glad the bad guy got caught, etc, but handing over the keys to the kingdom to law enforcement without a subpoena implies, in my mind, that respect for users' privacy is simply not something Blizzard considers when they go about their business. Or rather, that such information is their property, not yours.

Re:Impropriety (5, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620270)

I'm glad the bad guy got caught,

Alleged bad guy. Even you, with your demonstrated skepticism, have been suckered in by the "if the cops want him, he must be guilty" mindset.

Re:Impropriety (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620404)

You know that's a load of shit. Stop being a douche.

Re:Impropriety (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620406)

Especially when how they probably do things in China makes the american blizzard division look like a saint.

Re:Impropriety (1)

scapermoya (769847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620284)

you'd think they'd want a subpoena to cover their own butts in the event that the cops got it wrong and the guy sues them.

Re:Impropriety (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620296)

>Or rather, that such information is their property, not yours

Are people really so naive in 2010 that this isn't plainly obvious?

Re:Impropriety (3, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620340)

(wakes up, looks around)

Is it 2010 now?

Re:Impropriety (5, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620298)

They were upfront about it: it's in the privacy policy [blizzard.com] . In general it says they won't give out your information to third parties without informing you, but they do make an exception for law enforcement:

We reserve the right to disclose your personal information as required by law or in special cases when we have reason to believe that disclosing such information is necessary to identify, contact, or bring legal action against you if you are violating the Terms of Service or Use Agreements for a Blizzard site or product, or may be causing injury to or interference (intentionally or unintentionally) with Blizzard's rights or property, other users of a Blizzard site or product, or anyone else who could be harmed by your activities.

They basically say if the police come, they'll have no problem giving up your information. I guess that is a problem for some people, but so far it doesn't bother me enough to make me stop playing.

Re:Impropriety (4, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620352)

On a different note a guy who was fairly senior in a large ISP here told me that one of their subscribers send whattlooked like a suicide note over IRC. The person who spotted it got onto the ISP, who gave the billing address to the local police in that jurisdiction. They got there just in time.

Re:Impropriety (0)

adolf (21054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620418)

So?

Since when is killing oneself illegal?

Re:Impropriety (3, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620468)

Since when is killing oneself illegal?

Surely you are joking? Almost every country in the world has laws against suicide. In the US it was only a decade or so ago that the last states took felony suicide and attempted suicide laws off the books.

Re:Impropriety (1)

eqisow (877574) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620474)

For awhile? [wikipedia.org]

Re:Impropriety (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620630)

Afraid it is. In some countries it carries the death penalty.

Re:Impropriety (1)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620378)

Anyone who has a problem with this should simply not use their services. There is certainly no law that states a company cannot cooperate with police without a search warrant. Especially when they disclose this in their terms of service.

Re:Impropriety (0)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620636)

Anyone who has a problem with this should simply not use their services.

... and make as loud a noise as they can about it so that anyone else who shares their sensibilities about privacy will know about it too.

Especially when they disclose this in their terms of service.

Not the case. [slashdot.org]

Re:Impropriety (0)

Stevecrox (962208) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620638)

Actually the Data Protection Act in the UK/Europe would probably make this sort of thing illegal. If I remember the act correctly Police have to get a search warrant in order to obtain this information otherwise it's no different from releasing the information to some bloke off the street. Blizzard would be liable here and probably fined up to £250k.

America's complete lack of such a directive is the reason I'll never travel there, you demand personnel information to ensure we aren't terrorists and then allow any and every government department uncontrolled access to that information.

Re:Impropriety (0)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620438)

From your quote:

We reserve the right to disclose your personal information as required by law or in special cases when we have reason to believe that disclosing such information is necessary to identify, contact, or bring legal action against you if you are violating the Terms of Service or Use Agreements for a Blizzard site or product, or may be causing injury to or interference (intentionally or unintentionally) with Blizzard's rights or property, other users of a Blizzard site or product, or anyone else who could be harmed by your activities.

Let's analyze.

as required by law

As opposed to "as requested by law". They were not legally required to hand over this guy's information, merely requested.

if you are violating the Terms of Service or Use Agreements

Quite clearly not the case here.

or may be causing injury to or interference (intentionally or unintentionally) with Blizzard's rights or property, other users of a Blizzard site or product

This isn't it either... it must be something in the last part.

or anyone else who could be harmed by your activities.

Surely, this is vague enough that it could include anything. However, it gives me the impression that they assume he's still committing crimes. A quote from the original article:

In this case, online gamers were playing alongside Alfred Hightower, a man wanted on charges of dealing in a schedule III controlled substance and dealing in a schedule IV controlled substance, and two charges of dealing in marijuana. A warrant was issued for his arrest in 2007.

So he was dealing drugs over two years ago. And to be honest, I'm not impressed by the kinds of drugs he was dealing either. Examples are taken from this Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] :

He was charged with dealing in a schedule III controlled substance, which could be something like anabolic steroids [wikipedia.org] . This is what gets people thrown out of the Olympic Games or the Tour de France, not violently killed. He was also charged with dealing in a schedule IV controlled substance, the list of which includes Valium [wikipedia.org] . And last but not least, two charges of dealing pot.

To me, these drugs seem as harmful or as harmless as many over-the-counter drugs, and most of them are commercially available if you find a doctor that will write you a prescription. I'm not defending drug dealers here, just pointing out the difference between a criminal like this and someone that's actually worth tracking down.

So this warrant was issued two years ago, he fled the country, started a new life, and there is (as far as I can tell) no evidence of him dealing drugs after that. So about the part where people could be harmed by his activities... I don't know. Which re-opens the question about what part of the privacy agreement would cover Blizzard if the guy would sue them.

Re:Impropriety (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620530)

That almost sounds like a reasonable analysis of the privacy agreement except you completely ignored parts of it. Let's have intellectual honesty, shall we? It doesn't say it has to be illegal, it says "as required by law or in special cases;" clearly this was a special case.

If the law is bad, we should change the law. Otherwise it is silly to get upset with the group who is often called by the name law enforcement for doing what their name implies. You can't get mad at the police for doing what we as a society asked them to do, and you can't really get mad at Blizzard for helping them to do what we asked them to do.

Re:Impropriety (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620562)

So this warrant was issued two years ago, he fled the country, started a new life, and there is (as far as I can tell) no evidence of him dealing drugs after that.

This is America, where you aren't allowed to start over and have a new life after realizing a mistake such as helping other people.

In the eyes of our police force, just because he stopped selling doesn't mean he isn't a horrible person that deserves prison time, but he's also never allowed to make a life for himself after supposedly 'paying his dues'.
It is only acceptable to never let these people work or live in society again.

While granted the entire basis of our legal system is stated as rehabilitation, their actions over the last 300 years show the exact opposite is true in reality.

And if our police force has shown us anything, it is that a murderer is not worth going after because it will be too hard, yet someone selling $50 worth of pot is totally worth the tens of thousands (or more in this case) of dollars to track them down and ruin their life.

Re:Impropriety (0)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620446)

They were upfront about it: it's in the privacy policy. In general it says they won't give out your information to third parties without informing you, but they do make an exception for law enforcement:

Gee, did you even read what you quoted?

It says "required by law" not "make it easy for the cops."
There was no valid subpoena, it was just "a politely worded request."

And if you are thinking the last part about "causing injury to ... anyone else" is an escape clause - the guy was not causing (present tense) injury, he may have sold illegal drugs in the past, so any possible threat was (a) long past and (b) not a direct result of his actions either as an action simply being illegal does not make it injurious.

Re:Impropriety (-1, Flamebait)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620488)

I want the cops to have as easy a job as possible. It saves me money in taxes if we don't have to hire as many. As long as they don't start convicting innocent people or treating their prisoners too badly (like Joe Arpaio has been accused of doing) then I'm ok.

Re:Impropriety (2, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620554)

I want the cops to have as easy a job as possible.

And there we have it. You are fundamentally incompatible with basic American values.
A free society does not exist for the convenience of the police.

Its also funny that you've demonstrated once again that you just throw out rationalizations and hope they will stick.
After all, I just shot down your entire rationalization of "well their privacy policy said they would do it" so you switched arguments.
Instead of being ticked off that Blizzard really did violate the terms of their privacy policy you just rationalized it with yet another authoritarian argument about saving tax dollars.

Re:Impropriety (1, Redundant)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620660)

After all, I just shot down your entire rationalization of "well their privacy policy said they would do it" so you switched arguments.

Are you serious? Wow, you must have not actually read it. Here is the quote: W"e reserve the right to disclose your personal information as required by law or in special cases when we have reason to believe that disclosing such information is necessary to identify, contact, or bring legal action against you"

It doesn't say they have to wait until they are obligated by law, you are reading it wrong if you believe that. It says in special cases they may give your information out so legal action can be brought against you (or so you can be identified or contacted. Under that clause it doesn't even have to be the police making the request).

Re:Impropriety (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620486)

Wait until they realize how much money they can make selling the data to bill collectors...

"You may not advance to the next level until you have paid your outstanding Verizon bills".

Re:Impropriety (2, Interesting)

houghi (78078) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620642)

In Belgium that could mean that the data was obtained illegally and the case could be thrown out. You need a court order to get privacy data, even if you are a cop and walk into the building. Well, especially if you are a cop, as you should know what the procedure was.

Not only would it be possible to get the case thrown out, it would also be possible to sue the company for giving out personal information. There is a reason for this and even now it happens that in individual cases police abuse the knowledge they have for personal gain.

The positive part is that it should be clear to everybody involved what you can give out when and when you can't. "If you can't produce the correct papers, I can't give you anything. Now go away and leave the building." and yes, I have seen policemen escorted out of the building because they did not have the correct papers with them and if they would have stayed, we would have filed for trespassing and breaking and entering and what not.

They came back two hours later with the correct papers and got all the cooperation they needed. From that day on they came with a court order each time and each time got what they asked for in the warrent (nothing more and nothing less).

Re:Impropriety (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620310)

I'm glad the bad guy got caught, etc, but handing over the keys to the kingdom to law enforcement without a subpoena implies,

Did you even read the article? The part where it says: SUBPOENA?

Did you even read the SUMMARY on slashdot? The part where it says: SUBPOENA?

Idiot.

Did you read & understand the article? (3, Informative)

Chmcginn (201645) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620350)

Did you understand the article? The subpoena had no force of law, as it was being served out of their jurisdiction. Done correctly, it would have had to have been served via the court in the jurisdiction the entity providing the information resided in - a California court, not an Indiana one. Because of time/funding/whatever issues, the sheriff didn't bother going that route, but instead sent what was in essence a request, not a subpoena.

Re:Did you read & understand the article? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620440)

Did you understand the article? The subpoena had no force of law,

I know what a subpoena is, and and the difference between a subpoena a court order.

The comment said there wasn't a subpoena, when there clearly was. Whether the subpoena is valid & enforceable is a different question entirely.

You're the idiot. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620358)

Did YOU read the summary?

How about this part:

"Roberson’s subpoena was nothing more than a politely worded request, considering the limits of his law enforcement jurisdiction and the ambiguity of the online world. 'They don’t have to respond to us, and I was under the assumption that they wouldn’t,' said Roberson.

If you bothered to read the article, it's repeated there, as well. If it's just a "politely worded request" then use of the word subpoena was in error.

Definition of subpoena:

A subpoena (pronounced /sbpin/ or pronounced /spin/) is a writ issued by a court that commands the presence of a witness to testify, under a penalty for failure.

If they were able to legally enforce this, I doubt they would have bothered with said "politely worded request" - look at the TSA's use of subpoenas, for example.

Re:You're the idiot. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620546)

Did YOU read the summary?

How about this part:

"Roberson's subpoena was nothing more than a politely worded request, considering the limits of his law enforcement jurisdiction and the ambiguity of the online world. 'They don't have to respond to us, and I was under the assumption that they wouldn't,' said Roberson.

If you bothered to read the article, it's repeated there, as well. If it's just a "politely worded request" then use of the word subpoena was in error.

On the contrary, a subpoena WAS CLEARLY SENT. The article says this 3 times:

1. "... gave me enough evidence to send a subpoena"
2. "Roberson's subpoena was ..."
3. "... had been three or four months since I had sent the subpoena"

Now, journalists often get their facts wrong, but by using the word subpoena 3 times, strongly suggests that THERE WAS A SUBPOENA.

Whether the subpoena is valid, correct, enforceable and legitimate is a completely different question. But a subpoena clearly was sent, when the poster claimed there was no subpoena.

If they were able to legally enforce this, I doubt they would have bothered with said "politely worded request" - look at the TSA's use of subpoenas, for example.

A subpoena is not a court order, and a subpoena is not a warrant. The phrase "politely worded request" implies that the journalist knows how worthless a subpeona typically is.

Re:You're the idiot. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620600)

Now, journalists often get their facts wrong, but by using the word subpoena 3 times, strongly suggests that THERE WAS A SUBPOENA.

Whether the subpoena is valid, correct, enforceable and legitimate is a completely different question. But a subpoena clearly was sent, when the poster claimed there was no subpoena.

A subpoena is not a court order, and a subpoena is not a warrant. The phrase "politely worded request" implies that the journalist knows how worthless a subpeona typically is.

As written in a law dictionary:

SUBPOENA, chancery practice. A mandatory writ or process, directed to and
requiring one or more persons to appear at a time to come, and answer the
matters charged against him or them; the writ of subpoena was originally a
process in the courts of common law, to enforce the attendance of a witness
to give evidence; but this writ was used in the court of chancery for the
game purpose as a citation in the courts of civil and canon law, to compel
the appearance of a defendant, and to oblige him to answer upon oath the
allegations of the plaintiff.

That just screams "politely worded request" doesn't it? It sounds like either the cop couldn't/didn't get one and tried anyway, or somebody's throwing around the word subpoena to make the request sound more legitimate.

That the word subpoena was used three times strongly suggests that word does not mean what somebody thinks it means.

Your answer is right there in the Terms of Use (4, Informative)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620336)

One has to wonder, if Blizzard goes that far above and beyond requests of law enforcement and gives mountains of data in response to polite requests-- not even subpoenas-- how seriously do they take the privacy of *your* personal information?

Well, though people do tend to gloss over the fine details in things like EULAs and Terms of Service, it's not as if Blizzard is hiding anything from its users. From the WoW Terms of Use: [worldofwarcraft.com]

C. Blizzard may, with or without notice to you, disclose your Internet Protocol (IP) address(es), personal information, Chat logs, and other information about you and your activities: (a) in response to a request by law enforcement, a court order or other legal process; or (b) if Blizzard believes that doing so may protect your safety or the safety of others.

Blizzard gets a request from law enforcement, Blizzard hands over the info, simple as that. (And actually, if it were my company I'd probably have a similar policy. A "polite request" is just about the only contact I'd ever want to have with law enforcement, and the sooner they disappear from my life the better.)

Just legalize drugs! (2, Insightful)

A12m0v (1315511) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620250)

No need for invading our privacy.
It's my body, I decide what to do with it!

Plus, you'll get rid of the middleman, legalize drugs and there will be no need for dealers or drug gangs. The government WILL be the sole dealer of drugs, and due to economies of scales, they'll be able to sell them for far less than any dealer while making a good sum of money thanks to all the taxes.

obligatory (3, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620260)

Penny Arcade [penny-arcade.com] did their thing about it.

It kind of sucks for that guy, but basically if you don't like laws, you'll usually be better off trying to change them than run away. There's generally nothing unethical about helping the police find someone who's accused of committing a crime.

Re:obligatory (2, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620314)

There's generally nothing unethical about helping the police find someone who's accused of committing a crime.

But this isn't the general case.

This is a case where a company has violated the presumptive right to privacy of its customers in order to do so. That completely changes the situation.

Re:obligatory (5, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620332)

They followed their privacy policy. The guy should have read it. This seems to be a surprise to you, so maybe you should have read it to, and if it bothers you, stop playing.

Re:obligatory (0)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620384)

They followed their privacy policy. The guy should have read it. This seems to be a surprise to you, so maybe you should have read it to, and if it bothers you, stop playing.

Gee, maybe YOU should read the privacy policy. [worldofwarcraft.com]
I just did.
It doesn't say anything like what you are implying it does.
The closest it gets is that they will disclose as required by law - not the convenience of law enforcement.

Re:obligatory (0, Redundant)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620428)

We reserve the right to disclose your personal information as required by law or in special cases when we have reason to believe that disclosing such information is necessary to identify, contact, or bring legal action against you

Emphasis mine. This was a special case.

If someone wants to help the police, they can help the police. There's nothing wrong with that.

Re:obligatory (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620484)

Oh, wait a second. First you said it was a general case, now you are arguing that it is a special case?

That's a laugh. Coupled with your half-quote of the policy, seems like you know exactly why that "special case" clause doesn't apply.
Hint - the list of special cases is what you left out and this situation didn't fall under any of them.

Re:obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620444)

"or in special cases"

Sounds pretty special to me

Re:obligatory (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620392)

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. The fact that you went off on a complete tangent instead of addressing the point that this is not the general case as you portrayed it just indicates that you are a bootlicker. You have no consistent idealogy other than kowtow to authoritae and when pressed on your rationalizations you can't support them and just make up new rationalizations to justify your bootlicking.

Re:obligatory (0, Redundant)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620464)

Who cares? If the police ask me for help, I'll as likely as not help them. Why should I be surprised if others do as well? You seem to have some weird fear of police and authority in general, which doesn't make much sense given that the authority of the police is based entirely on the authority of society. They do what society wants (unless they go rogue and do things that society doesn't want).

If you want to change the police, you should change society. Not go around calling people names, which actually doesn't accomplish anything.

Re:obligatory (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620514)

Who cares? If the police ask me for help, I'll as likely as not help them.

Who cares? Gee, what did I say in my original response to you?
The people who care are those who have implicitly trusted their privacy to Blizzard.

And quit your bullshit with trying to paint me as having some weird fears. Blizzard's customers have an expectation of privacy, your selective quoting of the privacy agreement notwithstanding. We as a society have a process in place that enables the police to get the information they need and companies like blizzard to protect the privacy of their clients - its called a subpoena. There is no need for your red herring about "changing society."

Re:obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620394)

If the police wants you for X, for any value of X, do you really expect privacy?

Re:obligatory (2, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620412)

If the police wants you for X, for any value of X, do you really expect privacy?

I expect due process and that everybody get their ducks in a row - in this case that should have been a subpoena.
Its not like anyone was in any immediate danger from the suspect - there was no rush. If the guy was a legitimate suspect the cops should have no problem running it past the appropriate oversight (i.e. the judge who issues the subpoena).

Re:obligatory (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620644)

"in this case that should have been a subpoena"

why? subpoena is only required when you refuse the polices request, there's no law against willingly handing over data or information to the police.

you problem is you don't understand that blizzard owns the data not the player in question. the player is shit out of luck if blizzard wants to snitch on him.

Re:obligatory (1)

jabbathewocket (1601791) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620478)

hrrm.. given that the wow TOS/EULA basically say they will respond to requests from all forms of law enforcement ... dont think thats an issue here.. in addition if they guy REALLy wanted to hide, he likely would not be using his name, and would be using a gamecard rather than credit card to pay.. That said, given that his childhood friend gave them the info that he A) played wow B) used X screen name even then he would have been screwed.. Just cant trust those damn childhood friends can yah?

Re:obligatory (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620526)

given that the wow TOS/EULA basically say they will respond to requests from all forms of law enforcement

It does not say that. It isn't like you need to be a lawyer to understand it, all you have to do is keep your attention focused until the end of one lengthy sentence to figure out that this situation does not fit any of cases they list.

Re:obligatory (4, Insightful)

johncadengo (940343) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620500)

Funny. I found out about it on penny arcade way before slashdot posted it.

And on another note, there are plenty of unethical instances of helping the police find someone accused of a crime. Just ask Anne Frank.

Re:obligatory (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620604)

It kind of sucks for that guy, but basically if you don't like laws, you'll usually be better off trying to change them than run away.

Sounds great... until you realize how some incredibly unjust laws are the result of a racist billionaire's self-serving propaganda campaign [drugwarrant.com] , and even the president laughs off the wishes of the people! [luxamericana.com]

How can one win such a battle? The game is loaded so that freedom is not allowed to win.

I'm not religious, but I have to quote Saint Augustine here: "An unjust law is no law at all."

Re:obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620616)

There's generally nothing unethical about helping the police find someone who's accused of committing a crime.

Generally maybe.

Its the 'accused' part, and the fact that literally (Dictionary definition of literally) everything you do is illegal somewhere.

Being a weekend if you wear your hat sideways in Minnesota you have committed a crime.
Being winter, if you have two ice cream cones while walking down a street in Ohio, you committed a crime.

If I accuse you of either of those (or anyone else does) and aids the police in finding you, knowing the 'crimes' are ridiculous and you will spend time in jail for them, I would say that is pretty unethical of me to do.

Especially so in that selling pot and Valium is legal in Canada. I was under the impression selling antibiotics was legal too but apparently was incorrect on that one, which is the only legal leg canada has for deporting him.

"So what are you in for?" "5-10 years for selling some pot and meds to kill infection... years ago in another country..."

Anyone willing to ruin another persons life over something so non-harmful (and in one case beneficial, as far as the antibiotics go) is very unethical.

strange (4, Insightful)

scapermoya (769847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620264)

“I did a search off the IPaddress to locate him,” said Roberson. “I got a longitude and latitude. Then I went to Google Earth. It works wonders. It uses longitude and latitude. Boom! I had an address. I was not able to go streetside at the location, but I had him.”

this doesn't seem accurate. ip address -> long/lat -> address? no chance. i can believe that they used his ip to find him, but probably through his ISP. In my experience, those geographic traces are only very rough estimates. sounds like this cop thinks he lives in CSI or something. i wonder if any of it is true?

Re:strange (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620306)

actually, no, i know in my country that when a police asks (most likely just asking, not even with any legal presure) they can get which "lus" the IP is located in, each lus has about 10 houses.so its pretty easy.

Re:strange (2, Insightful)

X-Power (1009277) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620388)

...including his IP address, his account information and history, his billing address...

The real question is, if they had the billing address, why was the rest even necessary to give out?

Re:strange (3, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620430)

Some IP geolocation websites have the correct town I live in, but none had the correct street, and others, well, they put me on the opposite coast in San Diego.

One in particular had a way to "correct" it. I submitted 383212N 684648E.

Tajikistan.

--
BM0

Re:strange (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620454)

He probably used this.

http://bobsworthindustries.com/csi/enhance.html?image1=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.maptown.com%2Fimages%2Fntscanadafull.jpg&image2=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.delawareonline.com%2Fblogs%2Fstrange-brew.jpg&x=48&y=80 [bobsworthindustries.com]
  miles away from my current location.

Yeah, an ip address search only gives you the location of the nearest "box". Mine puts me 27 miles away in a pretty affluent part of town, while I live in the shitty part. The way they find people through an ip address is to look up billing info at the isp. But that's boring man! that won't sell newspapers!

I'm pretty sure it's just the reporter trying to spice the story up for the type of 'tards that actually do watch CSI.

It starts with drug dealers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620268)

And where does it end? Why not give them ALL the information you have on ALL of your users?

Blizzard should have given them only what the law compels them to provide. END OF STORY.

IP address to lat/log? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620280)

My DSL provider keeps giving me a dynamic IP address each time I connect. Hard to correlate that to my location (it is traceable to the isp though).

Frankly, the moral of the story is if you're wanted by the cops, don't use your real name, and don't move to a country with an extradition treaty with the US.

So... (5, Insightful)

Donkey_Hotey (1433053) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620304)

Just one drug dealer ratting out another. Move along, nothing to see here...

Re:So... (0, Offtopic)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620326)

My son spent the last two weeks pleading for me to pay for an account on club penguin [clubpenguin.com] for him. Of course he won in the end. Now he is getting up early so he can log on through is mothers PC before we are awake...

Re:So... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620648)

I see, your comment is a post modern take on what it means to post a comment on slashdot. It's flying in the face of the establishment and saying "We don't want to reply, we just want to say things, relevant, or not".

Right on man.

*click* *click* *click* *click*

Heh. (4, Interesting)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620346)

What's Blizzard going to do when someone posing as law enforcement gets some information and then goes and murders that person... Hmm?

Re:Heh. (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620656)

umm, nothing. what the fuck do you think they would do, cry a river? seriously lets also ask why cows are purple and how wet water is.

RTFA people... (4, Informative)

CaptainPotato (191411) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620370)

Blizzard was subpoenaed:

“None of that information was sound enough to pursue on its own, but putting everything we had together gave me enough evidence to send a subpoena to Blizzard Entertainment. I knew exactly what he was playing — World of Warcraft. I used to play it. It’s one of the largest online games in the world.”

Due to the guy being in a different country, there was not a need to respond to it, but I guess that there would have been nothing to have stopped one being sought in Canada....

Re:RTFA people... (1)

Clandestine_Blaze (1019274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620626)

Blizzard was subpoenaed:

Well, they really weren't. A subpoena is a writ issued by a court, and the article heavily implies that this was simply a written request and that no judge had signed off on it. Why the deputy sheriff insisted on calling it a subpoena behooves me. Here's the quote I'm referring to:

But this is the Internet, and Blizzard is in California. Roberson’s subpoena was nothing more than a politely worded request, considering the limits of his law enforcement jurisdiction and the ambiguity of the online world.

So, it doesn't look like it was signed off by a judge - it was just a written request by the police. I'm not trying to split hairs or anything, but Blizzard wasn't exactly forced to comply.

Due to the guy being in a different country, there was not a need to respond to it, but I guess that there would have been nothing to have stopped one being sought in Canada....

Blizzard didn't have to respond because they are based in California and the police who were searching for Hightower are based in Howard County, Indiana and also because there was no real subpoena. Alfred Hightower skipped country and went to Canada and US Marshals could not locate him. So Sheriff deputy Matt Roberson sent a written request to Blizzard, who in turn sent them IP information to help track Hightower down. The Sheriff's department then notified the US Marshals, who asked the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to help deport him.

I don't have a problem with companies helping law enforcement track accused suspects down, I mean there was a warrant out on the guy, but I'd prefer if it were done the right way - with a judge signing off on a subpoena. The suspect was not exactly wanted for murder, but for dealing in a schedule III and IV substance.

Hmm.. that name.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620382)

Hightower? Is he related to Reno Hightower, van specialist?

So he's not a drug dealer. (4, Insightful)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620398)

He's an alleged drug dealer.

Which means he is not a drug dealer.

He is innocent.

(until proven guilty in a court of law, but that bit always gets left out)

I'm sure he's a perfect angel (2, Funny)

Myrcutio (1006333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620452)

Yea, because the county is going to spend hundreds of manhours extraditing a prisoner from Canada without enough evidence to convict. It's a done deal, call it for what it is.

Armory Link (4, Funny)

doomy (7461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620422)

He is pretty bad at wow too.

Look at his Armory.

http://www.wowarmory.com/character-sheet.xml?r=Bladefist&n=Rastlynn

Tracking (2, Funny)

andrewbwn (1075131) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620574)

Sir, I think we've located him, he's in Orgrimmar. Wait.... he just teleported in Thunder Bluff, he must be a mage, and he's talking to Cairne Bloodhoof. APB: Be on the look out for a level 65 undead mage wanted for selling Vision Dust and Dream Dust in the Orgrimmar Auction House. Be advised he's speced in Frost. Sir, I think we should send our undercover Troll Hunter with Humanoid Tracking to catch him.

Personal vendetta? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30620586)

I get the feeling this sheriff actually played WoW with the dealer and got upset/angry enough to chase him based on guild chat comments. How else would he know that the guy is in Canada and plays WoW? What sort of childhood friend would sell you out for a couple of drug dealing charges in such detail?

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