The names, contact details and personal addresses of hundreds of games journalists has been found on a spreadsheet accessible from the E3 Expo website. Although the file and information has been taken down, the leaked info has continued to disseminate online.
After learning of the leak, the Electronic Software Association, which runs the E3 Expo event, took down the file from the site. However, nothing really disappears from the internet for long, and the personal details of anyone on that file could be accessed publicly in the short amount of time the file was available. Although many journlists working for large sites would have work emails and addresses listed, many freelance content creators list their personal addresses and contact details. The last thing these content creators need is their personal information in the hands of trolls and other bad actors.
It is a bit shocking to find how easy it was to access the file. Although the link has since been pulled, on cached versions of the webpage, a link to “Registered Media List” could be found under Helpful Links. The existence of the file was brought to light by journalist Sophia Narwitz. In a Youtube video posted to her channel, she goes through the process of how the information could be accessed. After she contacted the ESA about it, the document was pulled very shortly afterwards.
Although Narwitz waited until the file had been pulled before publicly diclosing its existence in her video, the spreadsheet itself could unfortunately still be found. As such, the contents of the contact information has disseminated online since the leak.
In a statement to Kotaku, the ESA apologise for the leak. “ESA was made aware of a website vulnerability that led to the contact list of registered journalists attending E3 being made public,” it wrote. “Once notified, we immediately took steps to protect that data and shut down the site, which is no longer available. We regret this occurrence and have put measures in place to ensure it will not occur again.”
This still raises further questions about why the data wasn’t password-protected in the first place, or if this is how the ESA has treated confidential information in the past. Now the private information of hundreds of games journalists is unfortunately out there online.
If you have been impacted by this leak, or are facing online harrassment, this helpful Twitter thread by Steve Bowling gives some hopefully useful tips for protecting your data.