EA Insist That “Origin Is Not Spyware”
Battlefield 3 was the first game to use EA’s new digital service, Origin. In Germany, EA have been under fire from all angles by the media due to accusations of the program actually being spyware. Today, EA confronted the issues.
The controversy was sparked off by German publication, gamestar.de, when their suspicions led them to hire a lawyer to expose Origin’s Terms of Service. They supposedly found that EA have enabled themselves to gather all the information on a person’s computer and process the data, which has the potential to escalate in to a privacy violation.
With this news, the controversy spiraled out of control; people using process monitors to spy on Origin’s doings, returning open copies to shops, petitions for Battlefield 3 to be taken off shelves, and Amazon users giving the game the worst score on the site.
There seemed to be a lot of solid proof for the case that EA were being just a little bit sneaky about the use of user’s private information. However, a spokesperson for EA Germany has braved the task of addressing the issue head on with the following passage (loosely translated from German):
In recent days, some ambiguities have occurred regarding the license agreements and data collection of our Origin platform. We regret the confusion that has arisen and have informed our customers today on the state of things. Due to the recent discussion, we have summarized some of the essential facts as follows:
We have updated the End User License Agreement of Origin, in the interests of our players to create more clarity. The updated Origin licensing agreements are available here: http://store.origin.com/store/eade/de_DE/html/pbPage.EULA_DE
Origin is not spyware. Neither do we use nor install spyware on the PCs of users.
Origin captures limited information that is necessary to allow users to buy, download, and play games and gaming content. The information is also needed for online connections with other players and so that extra content and software updates can be delivered directly. The data is also used to detect the occurrence of smaller software errors to ensure they are repaired immediately.
We do not have access to information such as pictures, documents or personal data, which have nothing to do with the execution of the Origin program on the system of the player, neither will they be collected by us.
All information we collect with Origin and use is to ensure that our customers have the easiest possible access to their games while enjoying the full service and the best gaming experience that EA has to offer.
EA takes the privacy of its users very seriously. We have taken every precaution to protect the personal and anonymous user data collected.
The license agreements of Origin match industry-standard privacy policies, as they are used by many other popular web services. Where necessary, we will of course work together with the relevant Government agencies to ensure that our policies are and remain legally compliant.
The CEO of Electronic Arts Germany, Olaf Coenen, is quoted as follows:
We regret any confusion that has emerged with our customers. Origin is there to enable a world-class online gaming experience – and all the data collected in the system is used solely for this purpose. I am confident that the revised licensing agreements bring significant clarity to our customers.
So there you have it, EA remain steadfast that they have not tried to violate the personal privacy of any of their Origin users. With the persistence of the community and societies love of a good scandal, it is unlikely that EA’s words will stop those investigating the matter. Fortunately for the publishing giants, the scandal has not spread anywhere else around the world, and it certainly has not stopped Battlefield 3 selling over 5 million copies in its first week.