The now-EBay property StubHub has lost a battle in court and handing over the names of 13,000 of its users to the New England Patriots American football team. The suit was filed last November - two months before the acquisition of the site was announced, so it probably didn't go down like some of the YouTube suits.
It's never a good day when almost any website is forced to disclose the names of its users.
The Patriots alleged, and the court agreed, that all participants in auctions for game tickets between 2003 and 2007 violated company policy and state law. StubHub says that the majority of the names belonged to buyers, not sellers. Season ticket holders on the list of names may have their tickets cancled and the team may hand the list over "to the authorities," the team told the Boston Globe, whose in-depth coverage is also worth a read.
Who's a Bad Actor Here?
Judging by the description of the case, I presume that many of the names handed over to the team were of people who didn't win auctions for tickets at all. If that's the case it sounds like all the more a privacy violation.
The Patriots say that problems arose after the team canceled season tickets from ticket holders caught selling game passes in other settings. Some fans then sold their canceled tickets on StubHub, which lead to buyers "causing disturbances" at the stadium upon learning their purchased tickets were not good. Selling canceled tickets on StubHub sounds like the real low-blow in this situation.
But Stealing is Wrong, Right?
The above is an explanation of the team's perspective that anyone could sympathize with, but it may not tell the whole story, either. The Globe coverage also said that several teams in other leagues have struck deals with StubHub to be the official outlet for resale of tickets.
The Patriots themselves are still dealing with a tarnished reputation for getting caught spying on opponents earlier this season. It's safe to assume they are hardly the only team in sports doing so, though.
So the game on the field is full of cheating, people all over the country are buying and selling scalped tickets, some that get busted are reselling worthless tickets and some of those buyers are being rude at the gate into the stadium. Who'se the bad guy here? I feel least happy with the court who would demand that everyone's names be handed over to the authorities - but I suppose unlike everyone else in this mess of a situation, they're just doing their job.