All right, ladies and gentlemen, it’s tinfoil hat time: I don’t know if you’ve heard about this, but it looks like Activision Blizzard has been secretly watermarking every single World of Warcraft screenshot you’ve ever taken since 2008 with some rather sensitive information, including not just your WoW login name but also your IP address.
Now it’s no secret that Blizzard’s own Terms of Service give them the right to collect information about your computer. However, there’s nothing in the ToS that says that it’s going to secretly watermark each of your screenshots with a QR code that anyone can access if they’ve got a copy of the screenshot – so I hope you’ve been locking down your Photobucket accounts.
Now, I had a screenshot of my own that I wanted to check to see if this was legit or not, but unfortunately the original website that documented the testing and steps it takes to actually expose this watermark has gone down for some reason. Whether it’s gotten borked by sudden system traffic with people trying to access it, or if Activision Blizzard’s team of rabid attack lawyers went on the offensive and fired off a cease-and-desist letter faster than you could say “Zionist Conspiracy,” it’s currently unclear. All I can say is that if this shit is true, it looks pretty bad.
I’m going to keep an eye on this, however, and see if the info comes back up. It’s not like you can’t get at least a little bit of information from a raw WoW screenshot anyway, considering the default file name is stamped with the local time and date it was taken, and you can snoop a bit based on the content of the shot, but there’s nothing there that would necessarily give away your god damned IP address or login name. I’m suddenly glad I left WoW far behind a while back – of course now I’m kind of giving my copy of Guild Wars 2 the ol’ fish-eye. I guess I just won’t take any screenshots.