Report: Blizzard Once Slapped With ‘Misogyny Tax’
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Kotaku: A cybersecurity company whose security researcher had once been harassed by Blizzard employees at a hacking conference charged the game developer a 50 percent “misogyny tax” when it sought a quote for security services, according to a new report from Waypoint. The researcher, Emily Mitchell, told Waypoint that she approached the Blizzard booth during the annual Black Hat USA cybersecurity conference in 2015 to see if the major video game company had any open positions. Her shirt, which referenced [to] a security process known as “penetration testing,” prompted two unnamed Blizzard employees to ask her questions laced with misogyny and sexual double entendre. “One of them asked me when was the last time I was personally penetrated, if I liked being penetrated, and how often I got penetrated,” Mitchell said. “I was furious and felt humiliated, so I took the free swag and left.”

Two years later, Blizzard approached cybersecurity firm Sagitta HPC (now known as Terahash) to request a quote on one of Sagitta HPC’s password-cracking boxes. Mitchell, who was Sagitta HPC’s chief operating officer at the time, saw Blizzard’s request and immediately remembered what occurred at Black Hat USA 2015. After learning of the incident from Mitchell, Sagitta HPC founder and chief executive officer Jeremi M. Gosney responded to Blizzard’s inquiry with a lengthy message decrying her treatment at the hands of Blizzard’s employees. “[R]ather than dismiss you and tell you that we will not do business with you, we’d like to give Blizzard the opportunity to redeem themselves,” Gosney wrote. (He eventually shared the email on Twitter with Blizzard’s name redacted.) “We are committed to combating inequality, and I am calling on Blizzard to do the same. As you may or may not know, today is International Women’s Day. And in honor of this day, we are attaching a few conditions if Blizzard wishes to do business with us.”

These conditions included a 50 percent “misogyny tax” on any business Sagitta HPC did with Blizzard (to be used as a donation to three different organizations devoted to support girls and women in the tech industry), Blizzard becoming a Gold-level sponsor of the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference, and a formal letter of apology from Blizzard executives to Mitchell in which they’d further dedicate themselves to supporting equality for women and sexual harassment training. […] In 2017, the organizers of Black Hat USA, the Las Vegas hacking conference at which Mitchell was originally accosted, promised her that they would not allow Blizzard back as a sponsor for future events. As far as Kotaku can tell from historical information, neither Blizzard nor Activision have had a presence at the cybersecurity event since the year Blizzard staff harassed Mitchell. “Once this incident was reported to us, the Company began an investigation, promptly removed all unauthorized cameras, and notified the authorities,” Activision Blizzard told Waypoint. “The authorities conducted a thorough investigation, with the full cooperation of the Company. As soon as the authorities and Company identified the perpetrator, he was terminated for his abhorrent conduct. The Company provided crisis counselors to employees, onsite and virtually, and increased security.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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