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User data found hidden in World of WarCraft screenshots

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If you've spent a lot of time in Azeroth -- and chances are pretty good that you have -- you've likely snapped a screenshot or two chronicling your exploits. And you've probably posted those screens somewhere on the web, too.

What you might not know, however, is that along with those pretty pictures comes a batch of your user data.

First uncovered by a user at Ownedcore, it appears that Blizzard has been secretly watermarking any in-game screenshot taken by players of the massively-multiplayer game. The encrypted data includes user ID, a timestamp and the IP address of the server, though more sensitive info like passwords and other private data is thankfully absent.

World of WarCraft's own Terms of Use doesn't explicitly mention the screenshot method of capturing user data, but it does point out that Blizzard retains the rights to use such data to enforce rules, track down illegal activity, and generally improve the game experience. That's not doing much to quell the masses, however, who are widely upset with the fact that Blizzard never notified players that any info was contained in screenshots.

Those customers certainly have a right to feel a little concerned about how their information is being protected. Just last month, Blizzard's service suffered a major security breach, prompting millions of gamers to change their passwords and closely monitor their bank accounts for suspicious activity.

Blizzard has yet to comment on the screenshot controversy.

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