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VGETS New Board Release

The Video Game Ethics, Trust & Safety Working Group Announces the Appointment of First Corporate Officers & Board Members

VGETS Inc. announced that it has elected its first President, Secretary, Treasurer, and initial Board of Directors.

Neil Schwartzman joins the video game anti-abuse organization as President. Maria Thomas has been elected Secretary, and Anthony Purcell will serve as the organization’s Treasurer.

Neil Schwartzman is the former interdepartmental liaison of anti-phishing research and investigations at Apple iCloud Mail, where he worked as an independent contractor. He was the first winner of the Messaging, Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group (M3AAWG) Mary Litynski Lifetime Achievement Award, given, in part, for his advocacy work in helping to promote Canada’s anti-spam law. He has served on government and intergovernmental panels, committees and working groups in Canada, the U.S., and the European Union.

Maria Thomas is a cyber investigator who took part in a strike force that identified threat actors behind numerous video game cheat operations, underpinning successful legal initiatives to shut the operations down and recouping substantial damages for the victim companies.

Anthony Purcell is the former manager of Apple iCloud Mail and a former member of the board of directors of M3AAWG, where he also served as Treasurer for many years.

Eight industry experts have been elected to VGETS’ Board of Directors:

  • Mariska Calabrese
  • Steven Guris
  • Arohi Kashyap, Esq., Legal Advisor
  • John Levine
  • Don McGowan, Community Relations
  • Mick Moran, Child Safety SME & Law Enforcement Liaison
  • Allison Nixon, Cybercrime SME
  • Matthew Vernhout

“This new board brings a wealth of experience and energy to bear on an important area of internet abuse,” said John Levine. “For too long the video game ecosystem has been an epicenter of pernicious activity. VGETS’ new board are the team the industry needs to kickstart long-overdue change.”

Mariska Focazio Calabrese has been focused on trust and safety issues in leadership roles and areas for the entirety of her professional life. She has both a deep technical knowledge and a firm grasp of security best practice policy and protocol development and implementation.

Steven Guris is a cyber investigator representing the cybersecurity detective agency Unit 221B. Mr. Guris has been an expert witness in several court cases brought against the threat actors behind video game cheat publishing, and was pivotal in the prosecution of two miscreants who made real-world threats against the staff of a major video game company.

Arohi Kashyap, Esq. is a Partner at Kashyap Partners & Associates LLP. She has a law degree from University of California, Berkeley School of Law. She practices in both California and India, with a focus on start-up, transaction, technology, and data-privacy law.

John Levine is the author of the best-selling book The Internet for Dummies. He has been an internet anti-abuse advocate since the 1990s. He is a winner of M3AAWG’s Mary Litynski Lifetime Achievement Award and is active on the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and other internet governance organizations.

Don McGowan, former General Counsel of Bungie, was Chief Legal Officer of Pokémon for twelve years, and before that, was lead attorney for Microsoft Game Studios (now Xbox Game Studios), where he also worked in Regulatory Affairs on cybersecurity and cryptography issues. Mr. McGowan served on the board of directors of National Center of Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) from 2016 to 2023 and is on the Advisory Board of Red Ball Drills, a security training program aimed at providing a safe way for organizations and law enforcement agencies to drill real-world scenarios.

Mick Moran is a thirty-year veteran of law enforcement, serving on the team that pioneered Ireland’s response to cybercrime before it was even called that. After forking into the investigation of online child exploitation, he served over ten years at INTERPOL where he managed teams dealing with online crimes against children, human trafficking and people-smuggling. He is a member of various boards including Cyber Safe Kids Ireland and La Strada Moldova, and an active consultant with the EU, UNICEF, INHOPE and NCMEC. Mr. Moran won the 2017 M3AAWG Mary Litynski Lifetime Achievement Award.

Allison Nixon is a world-renowned expert in youth cybercrime and its ties to the video game ecosystem. Nixon’s focus is on investigating SIM-swapping, Denial of Service, swatting, and other forms of online abuse; she has assisted international law enforcement in myriad cases of note.

Matthew Vernhout has been an internet anti-abuse activist for more than two decades, and an avid industry analyst of the video game industry for equally as long.

“VGETS’ mission of developing technical interoperability standards and operational best common practices and protocols is unique to the industry in which I have worked for over two decades,” said Don McGowan. “By taking this novel approach and bringing a new perspective to long-standing problems, we intend to make considerable headway towards keeping the video game ecosystem safe for one and all.”

By VGETS, The Video Game Ethics, Trust & Safety Working Group

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