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Sentimental yet sardonic [userpic]

Fugitive tracked down through WOW

January 12th, 2010 (11:16 am)

Indiana newspaper The Kokomo Perspective reports that a local Sherriff's Department successfully tracked down a fugitive from justice through his World of Warcraft account, with Blizzard's co-operation.

Alfred Hightower, wanted on drug-dealing charges, had had a warrant out for his arrest since 2007, but had skipped the US for Canada. Sources said he was addicted to "some warlock and witches game".

Deputy Sherriff Matt Roberson, a former player himself, identified the game as WOW. Suspecting that Hightower wouldn't have given up his account, he contacted Blizzard with a subpoena, expecting to be ignored. But after a few months, the California developer sent Roberson Hightower's IP address, account information and history, billing address, online screen name and preferred server - even though it wasn't compelled to by law.

"They were very cooperative. It was nice that they were that willing to provide information," said the deputy Sherriff.

Roberson got a longitude and latitude from the IP address, typed it into Google Earth for a street address ("It works wonders. It uses longitude and latitude. Boom!") and contacted US Marshals with the information. They in turn got the Canadian Mounties involved, and Hightower was deported from Canada and arrested once over the US border.

Moral of the story: if you're on the lam, it's probably best to leave your WOW character behind along with your credit cards.


Posted by: Tara (elementalv)
Posted at: January 12th, 2010 12:18 pm (UTC)

I find Blizzard's level of cooperation a little creepy, myself, but YMMV.

Posted by: M. McGregor (m_mcgregor)
Posted at: January 12th, 2010 12:35 pm (UTC)

Yeah I was going to say the moral of the story is that Blizzard will do nothing to protect your personal information and will happily hand it over to anyone with some authority, regardless of whether they have the right to demand that information or not.

Posted by: kitty_poker1 (kitty_poker1)
Posted at: January 12th, 2010 12:36 pm (UTC)

I'm torn between worry over our ever-dwindling privacy and awe at the clever use of technology by the Sheriff!

Posted by: draconin (draconin)
Posted at: January 12th, 2010 04:04 pm (UTC)
WTF? James

I find myself quite seriously disturbed at the supplying of information. I'd certainly not advocate disobeying a genuine court order to hand it over but to me there's an obligation not to simply pass out my info without my permission or a legal reason.

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