Brandon Crisp, 15, has been missing from his Barrie, Ontario, home for about two weeks. He bolted after a dispute with his parents over the amount of time he spent playing online games. Barrie is a small Canadian city located about 60 miles north of Toronto.
Crisp was "addicted" to playing online video games, including Call Of Duty 4, over Microsoft's Xbox Live gaming service, according to local media reports. With the addition of Microsoft's funds, the total reward for information on Crisp now stands at $50,000.
Beyond the funds, Microsoft is aiding the search by turning over to police Crisp's Xbox Live account information. "Microsoft is fully cooperating with police now and speeding up the process to make (identifying online friends) happen ASAP," said Brandon's father, Steve Crisp, in an interview Saturday with the Toronto Star.
One theory making the rounds is that Crisp ran off to join a "clan" of fellow gamers.
In releasing the information, Microsoft overturned its standard privacy rules. The move came following the launch of an online petition, called "Project Red Tape," that asked the software maker to hand over the youth's account data. "Timing is crucial in this investigation, please do the right thing Microsoft," the petition pleaded.
The petition appears on a Web site, FindBrandonCrisp.com, that was established to help the search effort. It notes that Crisp is 5 feet 3 inches tall, weighs 100 pounds, and has dirty blonde hair and green eyes. He was last seen Oct. 13 wearing a yellow-and-green jacket and a burgundy American Eagle hoodie.
[email protected]:15pm, Oct. 28: A Microsoft spokesman said the company did not overturn its privacy practices in providing account data to law enforcement but, rather, "expedited" them. The spokesman also said Microsoft cooperated with law enforcement "immediately after being asked" to do so and not in response to the petition.