A court filing from the ongoing court case between Jason West and Vincent Zampella and Activision has found that Activision’s former IT director Thomas Fenady was asked to hack into the work computers and phones of West and Zampella in the hope to “dig dirt” on the two individuals. “Project Icebreaker,” as it is now known, was put into action only months before the release of Modern Warfare 2, eight months before the pair’s contracts were terminated. The news is courtesy of Giant Bomb, who has obtained a court document detailing the court filing.
Thomas Fenady has since testified, claiming that George Rose, the chief legal officer of Activison at the time and now chief public policy officer, asked Fenady to find information on West and Zampella that would give the publisher a valid enough reason to dismiss the two employees. Fenady went on to say that he was told, “don’t get caught,” and that “Bobby [Kotick] will take care of you… Don’t worry about repercussions.”
Rose has since denied Fenady’s claims but admits that Project Icebreaker did exist, although it was a company-wide operation as a form of surveillance. Fenady approached several third parties in the hope of getting assistance on his new assignment cracking the passwords; however, security specialists InGuardians and Microsoft declined to assist Fenady unless a proper court order was in place.
Activision has been in court defending itself from a lawsuit by former Infinity Ward founders West and Zampalla relating to $125 million in unpaid royalties for some time.
Analysis: So the lawsuit only continues and things are only going to get more ugly as they move along. It’s also noteworthy to mention that the lawsuit between Activision and EA is settled and that the two companies have agreed to put the matter behind them, two weeks before Zampella and West will go to court against Activision on May 29.
The thing here with hiring a fellow employee to hack the work computers, e-mails, and mobile phones of Zampella and West is that the accounts were internal, and it’s more than likely that the two signed an agreement that involved no expectation of privacy when it came to Internet use on internal work accounts. Technically, this would make the action not illegal, although it’s more than a little bit shifty.
At this point, I’m not too surprised at this revelation, and it has become clear there was a lot of tension between the two parties for an extended amount of time before the inevitable break up. Either way, if the allegations are true, Zampella and West will have gained a significant leg up on Activision moving forward.