Not signed in (Sign In)
    • CommentAuthordamienx
    • CommentTimeOct 25th 2008
     (3980.1)
    http://kotaku.com/5068816/microsoft-chips-in-25k-in-search-for-missing-kid

    There's still no sign of 15-year-old Brandon Crisp, who went missing after his parents confiscated his Xbox, but Microsoft Canada added $25,000 to the reward for information leading to his safe return, doubling it. Microsoft is also working with Barrie, Ontario authorities, divulging IP addresses of anyone who may have come in contact with Brandon via Call of Duty 4, his favorite game.


    I'm sure the Xbox TOS allows them to do this, but technically any one who was playing anywhere near this kid could have the cops turning up at their door invading people's computers.
  1.  (3980.2)
    Let me say this directly: so what?

    If the kid had been part of a club or a sports team every last one of their addresses would be revealed to the cops in a missing person hunt. Or classmates. Or anyone the kid worked with at a part time job.
    I continue to be astounded people think that their rights to privacy are greater when they play a game then in real life.

    This is not Verizon giving out IP addresses to private companies, this is a police investigation into a missing person.
    • CommentAuthordamienx
    • CommentTimeOct 25th 2008
     (3980.3)
    Your right to privacy should be absolute. Replace "when they play a game" with "in a time of war" or any other situation. It's not on.

    I can imagine it would be a healthy line of investigation to get in contact with people who regularly played any game with this kid. And all of this assumes that there is just reason to believe he may have physical access to these people at all..
    •  
      CommentAuthorliquidcow
    • CommentTimeOct 25th 2008
     (3980.4)
    I have to agree with JTraub here. All they're doing is looking to get into contact with anyone who might have any information about the kid. There's no indication that they're going to be "invading people's computers". I don't see it as much different to finding an address book with phone numbers in. If they just turned up on people's doorsteps to ask a few questions that would be normal police business, but when it's IP addresses people suddenly think it's 1984.
  2.  (3980.5)
    our right to privacy should be absolute. Replace "when they play a game" with "in a time of war" or any other situation. It's not on.


    Yes in a time of war the police should have a right to ask a missing teens circle of contacts about him. And it is a hell of a straw man there.
    • CommentAuthordamienx
    • CommentTimeOct 25th 2008
     (3980.6)
    Yes in a time of war the police should have a right to ask a missing teens circle of contacts about him. And it is a hell of a straw man there.
    I was drawing on the fact that all sorts of atrocities, unrelated to internet privacy mostly, have been carried out under that precedent.

    You say it yourself, circle of contacts. Handing over a a list of IP addresses with very tenuous links to a missing child does not symbolize any sort of link. It's an inappropriate use of technology unless a solid relationship can be identified.
  3.  (3980.7)
    Handing over a a list of IP addresses with very tenuous links to a missing child does not symbolize any sort of link. It's an inappropriate use of technology unless a solid relationship can be identified.


    Nonsense. Privacy of your IP has limits. The controversy has always been over corporate entities such as the MPAA gaining accsess to your IP. A police investigation into a missing person is as different as night and day. This is not a "precedent," this how the cops do their job.

    They investigate any possible contact, do you really think this would be any different then a phone number? Lacking further cause all this means is the cops have contacts they might no otherwise.
    • CommentAuthorWakefield
    • CommentTimeOct 25th 2008
     (3980.8)
    Damienx, if the missing child was your son, would you want Microsoft to divulge the IP addresses to the police or would you prefer they preserve the right-to-privacy of potential persons of interest?
  4.  (3980.9)
    @ Damienx - In your eyes, where does the "right to privacy" end? Because if someone's "right to privacy" means their inalienable right to have their online gaming concealed at all costs... I'm not sure where it would end.

    The comparison to sports teammates, I think, is very apt.

    Oh, and also? If one of my friends disappeared? I would *like* the police to check if I knew where they went. I would like the police to be *thorough*.
    • CommentAuthorWiseEyes
    • CommentTimeOct 26th 2008
     (3980.10)
    Kind of an interesting situation considering this is likely to lead to international investigation if they follow the full IP list.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeOct 26th 2008
     (3980.11)
    @Damien

    You say it yourself, circle of contacts. Handing over a a list of IP addresses with very tenuous links to a missing child does not symbolize any sort of link. It's an inappropriate use of technology unless a solid relationship can be identified.

    Do you honestly think that the police are going to do more than talk to people?
    •  
      CommentAuthorliquidcow
    • CommentTimeOct 26th 2008
     (3980.12)
    If. But all that is known is that Microsoft have given the police some IP addresses. Anything more is speculation. There is no breach of privacy here as far as I can see.
  5.  (3980.13)
    Quite apart from the Privacy angle (which I actually have no opinion on), what good is an IP address to investigators?

    While he might have played quite a bit of Call of Duty, can we really make the assumption that he knows anyone who was playing it personally (i.e. enough to run away to)?

    If I had an Xbox, and I happened to end up connected to a server that he was also connected to, and I played a few rounds, then my IP would be considered a "link". Except I haven't met him, I might not have even spoken to him. And if I have spoken to him, I might not know anything about him. If the Police come to my house and ask me questions, I'm not going to be able to do anything other than waste their time.

    I don't agree that it's like asking the members of a school sports team he might be on. Unless I've missed an integral part of how XBox Live works, it isn't like a school team sport where you would have to physically interact with other players before, during and after the game in order to play.

    I guess the only way this could really work is if it turns out he has real-world friends that also play Call Of Duty on the Xbox. But that is probably something you can find out by looking at who is on his list of contacts on the Xbox that was confiscated.

    The problem I have with "giving them the IP" is that it's adding more information which will have to be trawled through, and it is very possible that none of it will be particularly concrete or helpful.
  6.  (3980.14)
    You don't have a right to privacy on a corporate database, which is really all Xbox live is really. As JTraub points out, it's not the police investigating a crime that's an issue, it's handing over that information to organizations like the MPAA with all their flummery.

    The very first post nailed it, the terms of service Xbox live players agree to allow this. If you agree to hand over information to a company and give them permission to share it, why would you be surprised when they do just that?

    It's why I've talked more than a few friends off Facebook, take a look at what you agree to when you join that "place for friends". Or better yet, try to quit. Jonestown had less aggressive retention efforts.
    • CommentAuthordamienx
    • CommentTimeOct 26th 2008
     (3980.15)
    Perhaps my original post was a little reactionary. Neowin have reported on it, added a little bit more depth to what is actually going on

    http://www.neowin.net/news/gamers/08/10/26/microsoft-xbox-key-in-missing-child-case

    Microsoft has become involved in the search for Brandon Crisp, a 15 year old from Barrie, Ontario, about 100 km north of Toronto. The company, which runs the Xbox Live service, has increased the reward amount for helping to find Brandon to $50,000, according to the CBC. They also said that they were open to the idea of getting information from the Xbox itself.

    Brandon went missing over the Canadian thanksgiving weekend, on October 13. His parents have said he became addicted to "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare", and threatened to take his Xbox away. The child fled the home, and hasn't been seen since.

    Brandon had also become involved in "teams" that competed on Live, which the parents say "gave him a new identity", and taking the Xbox away "stole that identity from him", which they believe is the root cause behind him running away.

    Their largest worry at this point is that he's being held against his will, possibly by someone who he met through Microsoft's Xbox Live service. Microsoft is assisting to the best of their ability in the search, even breaking their privacy policy to try and find who may be responsible for the missing boy. Police are analyzing both Brandon's laptop and Xbox hard drive to try and find a new clue that could lead to a breakthrough in the search.

    Several of his belongings, including his bike, have been found abandoned in the area of his home, leading both his parents and police to believe mischief may be behind his disappearance.
    I don't know the specifics of MS's Privacy Policy but there will be something down on paper that explains the responsibilities of each party. If what Neowin is reporting here then MS are breaking their agreement. I'm not explicitly saying that they shouldn't - it may well bring the kid back - what I don't see is just cause to trawl through this list of IP addresses for no real reason. It seems to be more a symbolic gesture on the part of MS. A gesture at the expense of their customers.

    To the person who asked me what I would do if it were my child - that isn't how you should judge these situations in my opinion. If you asked someone if they would kill 5 strangers to save their child's life, I'm sure the strangers wouldn't have much hope. And no, I'm not comparing an invasion of privacy to death. I'm merely illustrating that bringing emotion into decisions doesn't make them 'right'.
  7.  (3980.16)
    You don't have a right to privacy on a corporate database, which is really all Xbox live is really

    Not for the first time, I'm quite amazed that there doesn't appear to be US equivalent of the UK Data Protection Act (1998) (text of act) (and on The Wiki).

    Lots of hubbub about personal privacy, but very little notice of Corporate entities' retention and use of personal identifying data. If the police can use IP addresses in this manner, then we might as well assume that an IP address is an item of identifying data.

    I can't tell from the OP, but can we take it that there was no request for this information by police but a casual and voluntary disclosure by Microsoft?

    Even if it is entirely legal, the question is... should it be? Is it not an uncomfortable precedent?
  8.  (3980.17)
    Huh. That's interesting. I'd wager that the company is trying to get ahead of the backlash ("OMG XBOX LIVE IS FILLED WITH PEDOBEAR!") by doing all this. It's a weird series of trade-offs, they expose their players, but they also keep online gaming from becoming the focus of the latest moral panic, or at least ameliorate the effects.

    That "What if it was YOUR BABY" silliness is just bullshit fear-mongering. Basing our thinking around our worst case scenarios is a sure-fire way to a paranoid.
    •  
      CommentAuthorCyman
    • CommentTimeOct 26th 2008 edited
     (3980.18)
    I honestly have no problem at all with these guys trying to find the lost kid by any means they think might be useful. If they can break the policy like this, could they maybe start abusing their power and breaking the privacy policy more often? Sure. Seperate issue though.

    The alternative is a parent being told they can't explore a possible means of finding their LOST CHILD.

    EDIT:
    That "What if it was YOUR BABY" silliness is just bullshit fear-mongering. Basing our thinking around our worst case scenarios is a sure-fire way to a paranoid.
    Some might call it compassion? Maybe I want to live in a world where a person's worst nightmare takes priority over my XBOX privacy?
    • CommentAuthordamienx
    • CommentTimeOct 26th 2008 edited
     (3980.19)
    Am I being harsh is resting "blame" on the parents here? I don't have an Xbox myself but am I mistaken in believing they have very good parental filters and timers? These are services that should be employed by all parents, from the beginning.

    Some might call it compassion? Maybe I want to live in a world where a person's worst nightmare takes priority over my XBOX privacy?
    Sure, but small as they are, these aren't tradeoffs people should be forced in to, let a lone have Microsoft decide it is a tradeoff they are having forced on them. Still the question remains - was it necessary?

    EDIT:

    @happymrlocust - Thanks for highlighting the lack of a DPA in the states. Growing up in the UK, I guess I simply assumed the USA would have something similar. Again, this would go someway to explaining my initial annoyance - the DPA is something I have always been aware of, and always seen as a safeguard for protecting my data. But my guess here is that the Privacy Policy put in place by MS is merely what the DPA attempts to force companies to do anyway. If the privacy policy of MS was breached in the UK, would the DPA allow for individuals to question's MS actions?
  9.  (3980.20)
    i'm not really sure we even have a right to privacy in the u.s.