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Investigation Started After EA Caught Spying Via Origin Client



/ 2 years ago

TheEyeofSauron

EA representatives have begun an investigation after it was discovered that the Origin Client is file snooping. With privacy concerns being a hotter topic than ever before in light of scandals such as the NSA, this is a bad time for EA to be making such a mistake and it’s not like they’re winning over consumers with love and hugs recently, given that they’re loathed by many gamers for their business practices (although this much is true of a lot of games publishers).

A thread on Reddit discovered that the Origin software was snooping on users usage habits, when this was raised with EA they said that “they are trying to get to the bottom of this”, which is another way of saying “we are snooping, but we don’t know why”.

The screenshot below shows a record of what Origin is scanning, it’s a little garbled but Reddit loves a mystery and figured it’s using a ROT13 Cypher. A little decoding will reveal to you that Firefox, Chrome, iTunes, Foxit Reader, Torchlight, PCSX2 and a few other apps were logged by Origin. Why the hell are they watching our browsers and more importantly how much of these apps are they monitoring?

Screenshot 2014-07-14 09.09.46

The seriousness of this allegation promoted an EA representative to leave the following statement:

“Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I’ve been working with our live operations team to fully investigate this issue. Origin is not spyware, and there should be no privacy snooping operations of any type. I hope we will be able to update you guys on the investigation soon, we’re gonna get to the bottom of this……Please message me any additional details or info that will help us investigate. We take claims like this very seriously.”

The terms of service for Origin do say:

EA collects non-personal information along with personal information when you actively provide it in the context of various online and mobile activities including online and mobile purchases, game registration and marketing surveys, for instance. In addition, we and other third parties use cookies and other technologies to passively collect non-personal demographic information, personalize your experience on our sites and monitor advertisements and other activities as described below.

The concern right now is just how much data and what those other technologies involve – how deep does the rabbit hole go, so to speak. Why are we not better informed and why is there no opt-out. In legal terms, EA will no doubt have covered their asses. After all, the ToS state that if you don’t want to use this technology, do not play. What will matter now is how EA handle the situation, as they could be on the brink of yet another PR disaster.

Thank you WCCFTech for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of WCCFTech.


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  • mr2k9

    Perhaps they want to win back the coveted Worst Company title for next year…

  • I think mr2k9 is absolutely right

  • Grant Dreyer

    A rot13 cipher, seriously?

  • Wayne

    The sooner these bozo’s go out of business the sooner the world will be a better place. Sadly there will be no shortage of other unscrupulous companies wanting to jump into their shoes.

  • Stephane Lafleur

    I am uninstalling origin now and will never again buy EA products.

  • JonasTone

    Well i will no longer be supporting Origin by leaving it logged in the whole time my computer is on(which is all the freaking time) what a bunch of asses.

  • Sasha

    (although this much is true of a lot of games publishers).

    Not true. EA is generally regarded as the pinnacle of awful, the very worst. Others might not be perfect, but noone is nearly as downright scummy and terrible as EA.

    I am repeating Stephane’s statement down below:

    I am uninstalling origin now and will never again buy EA products.

    I suggest you, gentle reader, do the same.

  • M137

    People didn’t know this was happening?
    It’s not just EA that do it …

    • dibdib

      Precisely. If you think this is scary, you clearly know nothing about what the apps on your phone are doing. Fingerprinting users with a variety of tracking services like flurry, crashlytics, google analytics, chartboost, etc. is the norm. And some operate their own in-house tracking, including EA/Popcap. 90% of what you’re doing on your phone is being reported to somebody, simply because they can.

    • Cyron43 .

      So?

  • Jeff

    Great – you found out it scans your browser, the one that ties into origin quite well for things like “battlelog”. Scanning your browser is not the same as scanning your cookie files.

    you agreed to this in the TOS – the same way Valve and Activision-Blizzard do it, and I think Ubisoft does it too. They are programs that scan your PC for game cheats and trainers.

    • Anon

      Nope, they gather “anonymous usage information” which they sell forwards.

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  • SteelCrysis

    No one complains when Steam does it. All Gaben has to do is say “We don’t care about what porn you watch”, and everyone forgets all about Steam allegedly spying on us.

    The only reason EA got voted Worst Company in America over companies that illegally foreclosed on people’s homes was because of butthurt gamers and water cooler people.

    Sasha, if Valve was caught doing this, we wouldn’t hear a peep of complaint from you. EA puts in pay to unlock unlocks and occasionally puts them on sale for free, Metacritic bombing. Valve inspires them to do that by turning Team Fortress 2 into Hat Fortress 2, GOTY.

  • disqus_Hk6bAV5M1R

    I still believe Monsontos is the worst company ever though I agree when it comes to the entertainment category that E.A. leads the charge for scum I think those that are saying ” I will just uninstall them and never buy from them again” you are just kidding yourself…..If your that worried then you need to go a bit farther then that…..Turn off your phone,P.C. cable box then put a bag over your head so all of the cameras stationed on nearly every corner can not track you then you will be fine oh and cut up your credit cards…..Other wise welcome to America the land of the free.

  • MrL0g1c

    Well, it’s dec’ 2014 now and the Origin EULA still says it will snoop!! Uninstalled 🙁

    Gog.com is getting the lion’s share of my game spend these days, when you buy a game from them it’s yours without any DRM or spying crap.

  • MrL0g1c

    Current Origin EULA:

    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

    AKA they say they are going to spy on your computer usage and maybe give that information to other companies.

    Actually, this is probably illegal in the EU because of data protection laws.

  • Blue Wizard

    At least steam is worth using. Take your rhetoric elsewhere