Internet Explodes Over Origin's Invasion of Privacy

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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Internet Explodes Over Origin's Invasion of Privacy


The internet is aflame with rage over the discovery that the user agreement for EA's Origin service allows it to collect and transmit any data it wants about your computer and what you're doing with it.

Our own sharp-eyed Origin [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/9.308724-EAs-Origin-is-creepy-and-watches-you-sleep] digital distribution platform. Here it is in its entirety:

2. Consent to Collection and Use of Data.

You agree that EA may collect, use, store and transmit technical and related information that identifies your computer (including the Internet Protocol Address), operating system, Application usage (including but not limited to successful installation and/or removal), software, software usage and peripheral hardware, that may be gathered periodically to facilitate the provision of software updates, dynamically served content, product support and other services to you, including online services. EA may also use this information combined with personal information for marketing purposes and to improve our products and services. We may also share that data with our third party service providers in a form that does not personally identify you. IF YOU DO NOT WANT EA TO COLLECT, USE, STORE, TRANSMIT OR DISPLAY THE DATA DESCRIBED IN THIS SECTION, PLEASE DO NOT INSTALL OR USE THE APPLICATION. This and all other data provided to EA and/or collected by EA in connection with your installation and use of this Application is collected, used, stored and transmitted in accordance with EA's Privacy Policy located at www.ea.com. To the extent that anything in this section conflicts with the terms of EA's Privacy Policy, the terms of the Privacy Policy shall control.

By installing Origin, in other words, you're agreeing to the TOS, and by agreeing to the TOS you're giving EA the green light to poke and prod around your computer, suck up information about your hardware, your software - and not just games, mind you, but everything - and what you do with it when you think nobody's looking. Want to opt out? You can't, except by not installing it at all, which of course means you don't get to play anything that requires Origin, including the long-anticipated Battlefield 3 [http://www.amazon.com/Battlefield-3-Limited-Pc/dp/B002I0HJZO/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1314202742&sr=8-3].

Origin isn't the only service that collects user data for various purposes, including marketing, but its TOS allow it to scan for an uncomfortably broad range of information. Valve [http://www.valvesoftware.com/privacy.html], for instance, collects user information "to improve Valve's products and online sites, for internal marketing studies, or simply to collect demographic information about Valve's users," but it's limited to a far narrower range of data. And even though EA's data collection practices in all likelihood won't be any different than Valve's, the worrying point is that they could be.

It's probably not going to win Origin any fans but how much impact it ultimately has on the service's long-terms fortunes is hard to predict. It is a grotesque invasion of privacy, but mainstream attitudes toward such things, as evidenced by Facebook, have changed a lot in recent years. There's also the fact that an awful lot of people really want to play Battlefield 3, many of whom will probably never even hear about - or care about - this in the first place.

If you're sufficiently outraged to actually take up the fight, the good folks at Reddit [http://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/js51f/ea_origin_spyware_issue_silently_boycotting_will/] have compiled a list of contact numbers and email addresses for EA public relations reps in the U.S. and U.K., giving you the opportunity to express your displeasure and demand answers from people who might actually be able to provide them. In the meantime, we'll keep an eye open for EA's reaction to the uproar, with hopes that it moves to a less intrusive user agreement. Fingers crossed; I really want to play Battlefield 3.


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OverweightWhale

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Apr 19, 2010
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At first I was going to have no problem with installing origin, but after reading about this it might not make me want to get Battlefield 3 at all now unless Valve some how pulls back EA to Steam.
 

Mr.Pandah

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Jul 20, 2008
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This is the first time I will actually sign one of those letters of displeasure.
 

Tartarga

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Jun 4, 2008
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It's almost as if they're trying to get people not to use it, what the hell are they thinking? It seems with every passing day the odds of me buying Battlefield 3 decreases which sucks because I was actually kind of interested in it.
 

rembrandtqeinstein

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Sep 4, 2009
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Won't fly in Germany at least, that country actually has laudably strict data collection, retention, and dissemination laws.

Between this and D3 required online connection to play single player, it really looks like companies really don't want any customers who care a whit about privacy.
 

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
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HOLY SHIT! EA IS TRYING TO FUCK US OVER? WHO WOULDA THUNK IT! Its almost as if no one had every heard of them before...

-.-;

Why is this a surprise to some people?
 

Ne1butme

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Nov 16, 2009
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If memory serves me correct, when Valve wants to collect data, it usually asks the user if they wish to participate in an online survey. And after you answer the couple of questions, Steam will show what data is being sent to the servers.

I do not know if there is additional hidden data harvesting within Steam. Does anyone?
 

MrJKapowey

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Oct 31, 2010
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Hmm, this is just really, really, really, fucking stupid.

"We'll release a triple-A game that hundereds of thousands (maybe) really want and have been waiting for for thre or so years. BUT we'll make them download something which requires you to agree us to do ANYTHING with ANY data we want to collect off their computers. Good idea guys, marketing is gonna love this!"
 

Lordmarkus

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Jun 6, 2009
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So I who have already downloaded Origin to play the alpha is pretty much fucked?

Ea has some pretty interesting business models. They make the PC version the best version by a long shot and then they do everything in their might to piss of the customers and destroy their new download service before it's even out of the betaphase.

Ah fuck it, I never thought I'd say this but I'm pre-ordering Modern Warfare 3 instead of Battlefield 3. Player run dedicated servers and steam is enough to make up for a shitty game, even if it's just to prove a point.
 

nifedj

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Nov 12, 2009
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It's strange - they don't need all that data for what they claim they're going to do, but I'm pretty sure that using it for anything other than what they say they will is illegal in the UK under the Data Protection Act. So either they collect data and don't use it, or they break the law. Why would either of those things appeal to EA?
 

FreakSheet

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Jul 16, 2011
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I mean,its only a problem if EA actually uses its power to take that stuff, but EA hasn't exactly earned my trust, so I can't be too sure.
 
Feb 13, 2008
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Said it. Underlined it. Internet took notice at last.

Given Ubisoft as well, can't PEGI or someone bring in someone to check up on these damn things?
 

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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Fucking EA! Hard. Copies. Come on people! I don't want to be the guy who's telling everyone to "Go back to horses, motors are just a fad!" but seriously!
 

SenseOfTumour

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Jul 11, 2008
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I have to admit, I'm only here because the tabloid style "Internet EXPLODES over Privacy thing etc" headline, was combined with (1 reply), and it just made me think, that's the kind of explosion a termite might have from its rear end after a dodgy matchstick.

However, it is kind of sucky, and I think it could be fixed easily.

Every game licence comes with a password that allows you full read only access to a randomly selected EA CEO's email accounts and internet history. We're fine with you nosey fuckers so long as it goes both ways :)

I state CEO, they make the big decisions, the bottom rung employees shouldn't be having to take the shit for it, as that's exactly what they've done at the moment, leaving the stroppy gamers to rant on EA customer service lines.
 

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
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Catchy Slogan said:
It still boggles the mind as to how this much of an invasion of privacy can be legal.
Haven't you seen that one South Park episode:Everything is legal, as long as you agree to the terms of service.
 

Bretty

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Jul 15, 2008
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They are going to have an issue in Canada. People signing away their right to privacy without knowledge of the fact?

And I really wanted to play BF3.

Pardon me when I say this is fucking weak!
 

Knusper

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Sep 10, 2010
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I had to get Origin when EA made when they were fixing BFBC2 for me so I swiftly uninstalled it when I heard about this. Can they still browse through all my files?
 

Woodsey

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Aug 9, 2009
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Ne1butme said:
If memory serves me correct, when Valve wants to collect data, it usually asks the user if they wish to participate in an online survey. And after you answer the couple of questions, Steam will show what data is being sent to the servers.

I do not know if there is additional hidden data harvesting within Steam. Does anyone?
Steam has a similar thing in its EULA, but it only concerns programs in relation to itself. And you're right, when they wanted to scan other stuff they asked (and I'm pretty sure it was opt-in too, not opt-out).

This is just saying they can scan everything and anything, and send it to whoever (but they are courteous enough to supposedly wipe anything that identifies us, how kind).