Jul 17, 2019 in Sociology

Online Gaming and Privacy

Online gaming has become pervasive in the era of computer technology. Apart from it being a fashionable way, through which people socialize with their acquaintances, it is also a suitable way that most parents have adopted to occupy their children constructively. The majority of modern children are hardly found loitering in the country side for lack of errands; instead, they would be busy searching and combing through sites for relevant games to play. It is believed that online games have panoply of effects to the players, especially if they are students. On a positive note, they boost the players’ concentration. To be more precise, they enhance hand-eye coordination thus equipping them with hand motor and spatial skills. They also enhance logical reasoning and quick problem solving. Apart from that, players are able to multitask hence learn to track a number of shifting variables, as well as manage multiple objectives, among other effects. On the contrary, online gaming has triggered innumerable negative effects, which have raised a great number of controversies in the contemporary society. While some people still believe that online games are good, especially for the young people’s steadfastness in their education, psychological analysts argue that long-term adverse effects of these games are dire. They also elucidate that these effects obviously outweigh the perceived benefits that are luring nearly everyone into them. The most pernicious problem that has arisen due to online gaming is the impinging on the participants’ privacy. With illustrations of Solove’s Taxonomy, this essay explains various ways, in which online gaming affects one’s privacy. Using real life scenario, the essay demonstrates how gamers can become vulnerable to hacking, which is currently rampant. It also demonstrates how most of them have fallen victims of scammers, exposed to malicious sites as well as found themselves being bullied by anonymous cyber-rogues. 

Vulnerability to Hacking

Daniel J. Solove, a Research Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School is one of the leading experts in information privacy law in the world. According to Solove, privacy is the state, in which people are relieved from a myriad of social friction. This relief enables people to fruitfully engage in activities that are worthwhile but in the manner, in which they have otherwise found difficult or downrightly impossible. Although his taxonomy focuses primarily on the law, Solove makes an attempt of helping ICT users understand various privacy harms as well as problems, which have so far achieved an outstanding degree of social recognition. He frequently uses the law to delineate the kinds of privacy violations that the contemporary society recognizes. However, he elucidates that the vagueness of the term ‘privacy’ has resulted in a number of people misconstruing it as a right. For this reason, although there are numerous cautionary measures stipulated by site operators to Internet users across the world, there is a still high proportion of privacy violation. 

Online gaming is ostensibly the most notorious conduit, through which violation of privacy has dominated the Internet use. The fact that these games are addictive has attracted many players of all ages. However, the youth and children comprise the majority according to statistics. The game sites are configured in a manner that players must log in by disclosing their true details of identity before they can access the real games or even their opponents in those games. Through this activities, which are performed massively across the world, a number of Internet users have had their email accounts hacked by impostors. The reason for this is the fact that the disclosure of personal details to game database has made gamers susceptible to this depravity. As a result, many Internet users around the world have fallen prey of cyber-attack especially in the institutions of higher learning where online gaming is a prominent sport. 

The most recent cyber-attacks on the institutions of higher education include crime rings, which stole credit card numbers in vast amounts. The practice has been quite rampant, especially in Russia, China and America where some unauthorized people including students have reportedly been infiltrating databases of online gamers. Many computer users in the campuses have complained of having their accounts hacked by anonymous intruders who have manipulated the accounts of the victims to their own convenience. Through this malicious practice, victims have reportedly lost their vital information relating to their education, for instance, their academic credentials, because they usually store them in drives for safekeeping. Along with that, their accounts have erroneously been used by the very hackers for soliciting favors from people they perceive to be acquaintances of the victims. Social conflicts and forgery practices have been prevalent following this problem because people’s private information has since become public and is being manipulated to cause friction among the owners. 

According to Solove taxonomy, this scenario can be tricky to deal with, especially through application of laws of privacy. The reason for this is the fact that the law is never applied indiscriminately, but one must assess the circumstances, which may warranty the application of a certain law before it can suffice to serve its intended purpose. In this respect, the law of privacy recognizes the means, through which private information would have leaked to the intruders as being through mutual consent. This is accounted for the fact that the player of games did nothing to make it hard for the intruder to get access to their information. It is tantamount to leaving one’s valuable property outside unguarded and later complaining after it would have been stolen. In such circumstances, the law becomes reluctant to take its course because it is assumed that the owner would have consented. 

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Exposure to Scammers

In the similar circumstances, online gaming has become attractive bait for scammers. These are dishonest Internet users who strive to scheming on ways of extorting money from their non-suspecting victims. A number of gamers have reported being defrauded either by their online counterparts or anonymous Internet users. Scamming has apparently become a lucrative unscrupulous practice that is attracting many cyber criminals. 

Scamming has taken keen interest in people’s private information, especially their financial information. First of all, the participants may indulge into betting practices to make their game competitive and interesting. As usual, betting cannot be complete without forfeiture of some valuables. In this case, money in liquid form is used in betting. The deal is made to look lucrative for both or a group of participants, and it involves disclosure of one’s credit card numbers, from which money will be deducted. Whether this game may be genuine or not, the fact is that already critical information of the participants’ finances would have been shared. Then, scammers take advantage to use that information thereafter for their unscrupulous gains. This problem has also been rampant in higher learning institutions where nearly every account holder has a credit card. Due to the fact that this is also where online gaming is dome on a massive scale, scammers find it easy to access much private information for participants in those games. Many have reportedly lost huge sums of their money meant for upkeep, college fees and also investments as a result of this practice. 

Another way, through which players’ privacy is impinged, is voluntary purchases of some games of their choice. It is common that gaming companies usually avail trial games just to entice players to purchase the full package or subsequent levels of specific games. In the process, they will be obliged to disclose their credit card information for the money to be deducted by the system. What they always forget is that the information usually remains recorded into the system. As a result, intruders can access the data, process it, manipulate it and then use it to their selfish gains. The same data can still be disseminated to other quarters for use in other unscrupulous ways. As Solove states, investigating or prosecuting of such cases usually becomes tricky. Owing to the manner, in which these sites are configured, it is not possible to determine whether the individual information in question was shared voluntarily or involuntarily. Numerous cases of impinging arise as a result of players themselves using the cards and later realizing a shortfall in their financial accounts before they suspect they are being defrauded. It is also difficult to accuse the game companies because the records of subscriptions will always reflect the times that specific players remitted the money for the game. This makes the whole case quite complicated, especially for the investigating agencies. For this reason, most cases of this kind just go unprosecuted and or unresolved because there is no clarity about the ways how private information reaches the hands of the purported intruders. 

Due to the fact that an individual’s private information would be in public domain furthermore at the disposal of intruders, the participants of these games will be at high risk of undergoing a series of turbulence from these anonymous people. Since they will have free access to their accounts, they can also begin manipulating their educational materials as well as credentials. Innumerable elites have reportedly been grappling with this problem where their important academic information is retrieved by anonymous Internet users and used in forgery cases. Others have erroneously been implicated into serious scandals simply because their identity particulars were used to accomplish those scandals. This can become a complicated case to emancipate oneself from it because identities are important, especially during investigations.    

Effects of Malicious Sites

Online gaming has numerous effects on one’s privacy. There are a number of malicious sites on the Internet, which usually are contrived specifically to introduce errors into the system. These programs are usually referred to as viruses. The programmers of these malicious sites usually target sites that are popular, such as gaming sites, where they can access personal information. Through the information retrieved, they can send them messages, which once accessed will activate the virus hence infect the personal computer. This malice has recently been on the rise, and many people have been affected. It is said that perpetrators do that to create jobs for the surplus population of computer technicians who are not employed. However, it is an incredible way of justifying a wrong by causing reputational injury to the victims, incivility and emotional angst. 

Similarly, there are a number of sites purported for companies that perpetuate cyber gambling. These sites have been instigated not to benefit the society but rather to perpetuate games such as programs, which would entice users to indulge in them but eventually earn them points for using the service providers’ platforms. The program may involve a long procedure of enrolling to become a member and other lengthy follow-throughs, with the purpose of winning any property that is displayed for lottery. Unfortunately, many game players who are lured into such programs hardly win anything although they would have enriched the company for spending substantial amount of time on net. Others send victims unsolicited and unexpected messages of wining certain things including money from accomplishing nothing. These messages are usually known as spams. Spams are also contrived for the similar purpose to win the Interest of the victims in taking part into their gambling game. One may think this is for free, but the owners of these sites usually get numerous recouped in return by being paid by the Internet service providers such as Google, Yahoo, America-on-line, among others. 

Finally, there are innumerable sexist sites, which also target gamers so as they can retrieve their private information for their own use. Sexist sites are special sites that encourage Internet users to hook up with others in love making on net. Usually, men are paired with ladies, ladies paired with fellow ladies, or men with their fellow men in cases they are gays. Generally, people would get personal information of the player and use it to approach a person of their preference for a love affair. Sometimes, if it is a man, he may disguise himself behind the picture of a lady to hoodwink fellow men. In this case, the targets may be deluded by the beauty or handsomeness of the photograph and get along with the person in an anonymous relationship. In the process, even more private information may be shared between the two, but usually, the hunted is the one that would disclose authentic information to this imposter. The information solicited is eventually used by the solicitor for his or her own gains at the expense of the victims. Many victims have reported being recruited into some cults in this manner. They engage in a relationship, which each of them tend to trust though are quite strange to each other. Sexist sites have also been notorious of perpetuating scams. This is where the impostor puts him or herself into a vulnerable situation and endear to their target victims, with the purpose of soliciting empathy following their desperation. The majority of them have been pretending to be natives of war-torn countries and that they are making arrangement to salvage themselves from the precarious situation. More often than not, they fake documents purported to be for their late parents, which they wish to use to access a colossal amount of money said to have been deposited in a certain bank by their parents. They procedurally make it look like it is a deal worth pursuing because they even include attorneys to make appear to be genuine and finally seek the victim to stand in as a foster heir to enable the transfer to take place.

Cyber Bullying

Finally, the Internet has apparently become a hub of rogues. A number of people have perfected the art of bullying other users in as much as they are anonymous. During online gaming, players of different games usually disclose their personal information either because they wished to access their favorite games or perhaps they intended to purchase games. In this process, there will be roguish individuals who just retrieve this private information so that they later begin bullying and intimidating the victim.

Cyber bullying has been on the rise during the period when online gaming has been augmented by the influx of players around the world. This means that there is much private information flowing all over the Internet. The most affected have been institutions of higher learning, and even young children who are trying to learn the use of computers and the Internet. Through social media platforms, they have been attacking each other, spreading slanderous messages, insults and unfounded rumors to defame the victims. It is possible that the perpetrators are people who may be well known to victims, but the art of disguising has made it difficult to track them. Bullying of this kind is equally responsible for causing angst among the victims and denying them peace of mind. Some may develop a Down syndrome following the negative manner, in which they would have been portrayed by their bullies, while others will totally lose self-esteem. 

In addition, certain individuals have become victims of life threats through this manner. This is even more sordid because it will put the victims in untold apprehensiveness for an unknown period for the reasons unknown to themselves. There is nothing more perplexing than one fearing for his or her life. This will deny them the peace with themselves, the right to move freely, freedom of association and will even deprive of appetite for food. As Solove puts it in his taxonomy, one funny thing is that investigating such cases is quite cumbersome, and hence, they may never be prosecuted. The reason for this is the fact that under any law in the world, one can only be prosecuted if the law finds him or her guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. This means evidence would have been accurately and adequately solicited to be used against the suspect in a court of law. Reaching this stage in law requires enough time to carry out forensic audit of the site and establish that the private information leaked out from the owner involuntarily. However, in this case, the private information would have been released voluntarily though later landed among unintended people. 

Following this complication of the laws of privacy, the federal government has been on the fore front to enact certain laws, which are deemed suffice to curb the problem of impending on people’s privacy, especially the online gamers. Some of the laws that have been stipulated include the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Nonetheless, this law has undergone several amendments and expansion due to mutability of the computer technology. All the same, it has formed the basis for prosecutions of criminal activities that are cyber related. It is analyzed that since the enactment of this Act, many crimes related to violation of online privacy have been tracked and prosecuted. The only shortcoming with it is that the strategies entrenched in the Act were promptly outdated when cyber criminals became high-tech. 

Conclusion

In light of the aforementioned scenarios, it is evident that online gaming has put the player’s information in great jeopardy of being seized by the intruders. This has disfigured the cyber technology yet users had earlier received it with great jubilation following the benefits that were coupled with it. It is also almost inevitable to withhold personal information while using the site because to access certain data, that information is required as a prerequisite. This has born a necessity that service providers as well as technical engineers in the gaming companies should device a mechanism of curbing this problem. It is apparent that the approach to privacy may not sufficiently solve the problem. This is a result of the conditions, through which personal information leaks to the intruders. Therefore, the best remedy would be introducing the innovative way of using biometric system of identification to log on and off the internet as well as Ethernet. This is very crucial for it will be tracking the identities of all computer users and Internet accesses. There should also be a system configuration, which will immediately alert the victims any time a stranger accesses their accounts or private information. Along with that, the governments in collaboration with the internet service providers and financial institutions should work on the formality to introduce a new generation of credit cards, which will contain the biometric data of individual owners. This data should be matched with the log in and log off biometric data every time the owner uses it. This is the surest way that would bar intruders from enjoying the ease of manipulating personal identification numbers (PIN) to access private information of online gamers. 

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