EA Origin EULA sparks privacy concerns

Mandatory licensing agreement for online service appears to indicate publisher can monitor, pass on data on all software installed on users' PC.

Electronic Arts has been investing heavily in online distribution and connected gaming over the past few years, and one of the biggest of those investments is its new service, Origin. A full-on replacement for the EA Store, Origin serves as a hub and infrastructure for downloading and playing PC games, as well as ordering boxed products for other platforms.

Violating the American people's privacy wouldn't be such non sequitur in Battlefield 3.

However, speculation has arisen that Origin serves as a clandestine way for EA to intrude upon users' privacy. Posting to The Escapist's message boards, forum user Dirty Hipsters called out Origin's End User Licensing Agreement, claiming that not only does the verbiage allow EA to "monitor your PC and to make a profile of you," but also detect "illegally downloaded material" and see what websites have been viewed.

Consulting Origin's EULA, the passage in question can be found in Sections 2 and 3, titled "Consent to Collection and Use of Data" and "Application Communications and Conduct/Privacy Settings," respectively. When EA refers to the "Application" in this context, EA notes that it is in reference to Origin and all related software, documentation, and updates.

"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," Section 2 reads.

"EA may also use this information combined with personal information for marketing purposes and to improve our products and services," the section continues. "We may also share that data with our third party service providers in a form that does not personally identify you."

The Section 3 passage reads: "EA reserves the right to monitor communications on the Application and disclose any information EA deems necessary to (i) ensure your compliance with this License; (ii) satisfy any applicable law, regulation or legal process; (iii) protect the rights, property and interests of EA, its employees or the public. EA also reserves the right to edit, refuse to transfer and/or to remove any information or materials, in whole or in part, in EA's sole discretion."

The EULA goes on to note that if users do not agree to EA's collection of this type of data, they should not install the application. It also says that this data is being used in accordance with EA's privacy policy, which among other statements, states that, "EA will never share your personal information with third parties without your consent." However, it is unclear how EA's privacy policy is compatible with the rights reserved in Section 3 of Origin's EULA, if at all.

As with most legal language, the extent to which EA is able to use this EULA to monitor users is open to interpretation. However, the EULA is markedly different from EA's standard PC software agreement. For EA's standard PC EULA, the "Consent to Use of Data" section is more narrowly confined to "technical and related information that identifies your computer (including an Internet Protocol Address and hardware identification), operating system and application software and peripheral hardware."

The addition of the "software, software usage" verbiage could be interpreted as including the ability to monitor any installed program, regardless of its provenance. EA's Origin EULA also adds the right for the publisher to share whatever it finds with anyone it chooses.

EA has run into privacy concerns in the past. Most notably, in 2006, the publisher first revealed that it had begun collecting users' data as a way to target and deliver in-game advertisements to players.

EA had not responded to GameSpot's request for comment on the matter as of press time.

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Discussion

229 comments
01-cannon-mpc
01-cannon-mpc

@Damnation_6 Its not about if its changed or not its about the fact that thay are invading your privacy which is against the law unless you accept the term of use. Its so wrong in so many ways that i just want to say alot of things to EA but i might get banned for that. And its not Dice's fault but i think its wrong and stupid of EA to do this to violate peopels privacy and trust this way.

01-cannon-mpc
01-cannon-mpc

This realy sucks and its wrong in so many ways. But the botom line is want to play the game then accept the EULA. Nothin we gamers can do realy exept stop buying EA games and/or stop using Oregin.

sexyasian86
sexyasian86

lol I pirated the game and I don't have Origin on my pc. lol to all you idiots for paying for spyware to be installed onto your pc

CoRiNi
CoRiNi

it's true , they updated it , download origin , just go and read the EULA , it changed

jockie_chan
jockie_chan

@KrazzyDJ I agree with your logic. They feel bf3 will be successful either way and this is a way for them to push out their secret agenda.

jockie_chan
jockie_chan

Wow... that is some scary crap they are trying to pull there. If you agree to this for this one game, it will become an industry standard (like the $10 price hike mw2 introduced that stuck)

ZoTrAcK
ZoTrAcK

I sincerely don't understand the people who know a bit about the video games world and still buy EA products!

KrazzyDJ
KrazzyDJ

I believe that EA is growing more and more confident of Battlefield 3 and this confidence has now grown into overconfidence - so much so that EA is inadvertently making Activision look like a saint in front of them. I just hope this kind of negative news about EA and Battlefield every second day doesn't hamper the apparently gonna-be-brilliant game in any way otherwise this would end up being one of the most disastrous marketing campaigns in video game history !!!

KhanhAgE
KhanhAgE

>Damnation_6 Stop being so naive. So they've changed the wording in their EULA. But have they changed their stance on using Origin to secretly scan your computer? I don't think so. This is EA we're talking about, all they seem to care about is @#$%ing over their customers. You spend your hard earn dollars on their games and how are you treated? You're treated with BS DRMs and intrusive programs like Origin. And the ones who pirate, don't have to put up with any of this BS. We live in a cruel world people. /rant.

demondogx
demondogx

ea got the game and got the hype for it to outsell cod to bad that they are there own worst enemy when it comes to beating cod i hope they wise up soon at ea

offspring94
offspring94

@CASwim1111 Just to clarify my "security" comment, I wasn't talking about National Security, LOL. I'm totally okay with the TSA checking my bags and stuff. I'm less okay with this type of videogame "security." The TSA is out to save lives; EA's just trying to run a business. Again, I have nothing to hide on my hard drive, but I think EA can be just as profitable with a non-restrictive, non-invasive system of releasing games. (As an example, gog.com's strategy is based almost exclusively on their commitment to DRM-free titles. The Witcher 2, a brand new game, was released DRM free on gog this year, and I understand that it was spectacularly profitable.)

nickery123
nickery123

heres to the hope that there's someone out there who finds a way to cripple origin's software.

duderdave
duderdave

This is bad news for EA and its Origins spyware. If they weren't forcing people to have to have it for BF3, it could be up for discussion. But, here, they are going all out Orwellian on their loyal and new customers in a very disrespectful and a very disgusting way. There needs to be better privacy protection laws in the U.S., as there are in most civilized countries these days, that can be used to stop such outright piracy, and wanton disregard of peoples' basic rights to privacy in their own homes and on their own personal computers in those homes. This is truly a scary, modern-day incarnation of the "Big Brother" communist-style "1984" repression and control of an otherwise free population. Someone needs to get the AG in on this one.

CASwim1111
CASwim1111

@offspring94, I do remember when games didn't have CD keys. I used to make copies of games and hand them out to a few friends. Of course, this is also before games cost millions of dollars to make, requiring a company to ensure people are BUYING their games and not illegally distributing them. Shoot I remember about 10 years ago when I was in college being able to download games. Oh those evil corporations with their desire to protect their copyrights. I'm pretty sure if you were on the opposite side of things, you'd be making damn sure people weren't stealing your stuff. As far as privacy is concerned, could you imagine the lawsuits if EA started using information not related to their products. My guess is that they're going to protect their butts and not over-reach. As to your security comment, I guess you'd prefer to get on a plane that could blow up.

tedders85
tedders85

I wish that these companies would just get off their high horses and look at the main fact. I just want to buy the game and play it. I shouldn't feel like I could be risking something, other than my $60, to play a game! Make it an option to install/use the software. Trust me, most people would still install it and consent to all this crap anyway.

Damnation_6
Damnation_6

Seriously gamespot...the information in this article is no longer valid. EA changed the EULA already. Update the article already.

offspring94
offspring94

@toddx77 I honestly don't care too much about it either, but it's this indifference that allows the "privacy creep" to continue. If we don't put up a fight this time, they'll take it further next time. Remember fifteen years ago when most games didn't even require a CD key? Not to mention online validation. The same way that security has slowly creeped up, privacy invasions are now creeping up too.

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

@ Skakruk Human Centipad Season 15 episode 1.

killswitch88
killswitch88

Good thing origin is useless and unnecessary :)

Grovilis
Grovilis

@emperiox Seriously? That's REALLY unfortunate. :/

toddx77
toddx77

@NeilCardiff @Rocker6 I understand where you two are coming from but I'm the kind of person who isn't going to let something like this get to me. Do I like to the idea of EA spying on me and giving info to other parties? No, but I'm not going to make a big deal about it since I don't see it as a harm to me. I know people are considering this an invasion of privacy, but as I said earlier as long as things like my bank account numbers aren't exposed then I can care less. If I start getting e mails from third parties I'll just delete them. I know not a lot of people share my opinion which I respect, but I don't consider myself cowing down to EA's whim, more like I just don't give a crap about it.

emperiox
emperiox

@Grovilis You have to use Origin for that too. It's EA's way of cramming their service down your throat. I was super psyched to get it until I realised that I would need to use Origin anyways. That means that if you pay for a physical OR a Digital copy of BF3, and don't play on your Origin account for over 2 years...sad day for you because your $60 is gone as they delete inactive accounts after 2 years. I was super psyched to get BF3 until they told people that. TBH I really want it, but the fact that it requires Origin is the one thing that is keeping me from buying it. :(

brownboyd
brownboyd

Year by year the gaming world is getting screwed by these big publishers and their $hit requirements such as drm, online pass, now origin and other crap... i miss the good old days of gaming when all this $hit didn't exist....

Grovilis
Grovilis

Looks like I will be buying a physical copy.

Uberfinn
Uberfinn

Your information is valuable to EA long beyond the game sales dry up. As always, information is power. There are multiple ways to sell information about your customers at a profit, and it's perfectly legal in many cases. Almost everyone you buy a product from online sells your information. It's not even hard to find it.

edant79
edant79

I've been a legitimate gamer for a while now, but lately (because of stuff like this) I've been losing my incentive. Almost seems like pirating would lead to a safer direction.

ymladdych
ymladdych

Yeah, I play Bioware games on PC, but I'll never install Origin. Period. I might re-purchase their titles on PS3, but then again, I might not. There's a plethora of awesome titles out there (my TBP pile is massive), and PS3 support isn't Bioware's strong suit. Shoot, I wouldn't have an ME1 import, either. Yeah, no...I probably won't re-purchase for PS3. So that's that if EA doesn't re-think its position. There's legal protection in the US against unconscionable contracts, and I think there should be standards for what constitutes an unconscionable EULA.

Rocker6
Rocker6

@toddx77 Your comment saddens me a lot,opinions like that are main reason why these greedy corporations are screwing their consumers in any way possible and getting away with it without problems.You should really rethink your words.

vicsrealms
vicsrealms

Ouch. Was reading over at Bioware's Mass Effect forum and didn't even think of Mass Effect 3 in this issue as well. That is going to hurt EA (Battlefield 3, Mass Effect 3, and Star Wars Old Republic), get your beepin' act together and do it quickly!!!

NeilCardiff
NeilCardiff

@toddx77 I've never read a more servile statement of capitulation nor seen a more willing dupe in my life. I find it utterly inconceivable that there are people who are willing to cow down so completely to the whims of those who wish to spy on our every activity.

gwailo2470
gwailo2470

@Damnation_6 So the point is that EA *wants* to do this stuff, but only public outcry is stopping them? You think they deserve a pass for that? This is like dating a girl who wants to cheat on you, but the only thing stopping her from cheating on you is the fact that you're keeping tabs on her 24/7. So in order to keep her faithful, your whole life is spent on following her around. That is not a good basis for a relationship. EA is trying to screw us over, sneaking this kind of crap in, and we're supposed to be happy because yet again they got busted and yet again they had to retreat. This just means they'll keep doing it again and again. Why support them when their relationship to you is adversarial and predatory? You keep buying EA games, you're putting more money in their pocket, and you're giving them the money and muscle to buy out game companies that actually put out products that we all love. And then they'll proceed to destroy those great games.

Cwagmire21
Cwagmire21

EA is trying really hard to win back it's "Most Evil Gaming Publisher" from Activision.

KayHangman
KayHangman

I read the EULA. And then I didn't install Origin because of those statements. I figure I'll wait until I'm getting something I feel is worth what I'm giving in return, if that day ever comes. Steam was able to convince me to jump on board, so we'll see.

Rovelius
Rovelius

Companies keep making me save $. First Skyrim (see the article about Rage buying incentives) then BF3:Spyware Edition....

mergulho456
mergulho456

EA must be all like : "Damn it, there are people who read the EULA -.-"

ErikElfEar
ErikElfEar

Why is it every time I hear something about EA, I have to sit back and think 'why', no one else seems to make so many controversial or straight out stupid decisions as EA. They're barreling towards a future where we'll have to second guess their intent on everything.

Death_Masta187
Death_Masta187

taken from the Windows EULA "Use of Information. Microsoft may use the computer information, accelerator information, search suggestions information, error reports, and Malware reports to improve our software and services. We may also share it with others, such as hardware and software vendors. They may use the information to improve how their products run with Microsoft software." I'm not here to defend EA at all. But if your going to through rocks try and at least be hit a bigger target.

botroo3
botroo3

This got NOTHING to do with fighting piracy...its all about spying on the legitimate customers so they can feed us more advertisements and to sell our private information to a third party so they can target us as well.

Takeno456
Takeno456

The companies always want more information, more data and more control.

Matt_Hunter
Matt_Hunter

@DeliCiousTZM haha yea FREE THOSE PIRATES (Let them live in Peace :P)

LoveWiiDestroy9
LoveWiiDestroy9

If it weren't for Mass Effect 3 I'd be done with EA. The more I hear about Origin, the less I want to support EA.

RockySquirrel
RockySquirrel

The industry will find ways to watch your asses... DRM or not... Resistance is futile... :P

_Colossus_
_Colossus_

Why do you make it so hard to like your company, EA? Are we really going down that road again?

firehawk998
firehawk998

@Snow_Girl :- Yeah lets just hope so . Cause it would be a huge embarrassment for BF3 (DICEs masterpiece) tanks due to consumer backlash courtesy of EA. I say EA should abandon the origins service and release games the old way retail boxes and via STEAM.

KakashiMorph
KakashiMorph

The more we want to protect our data, the more they try to take them... :/

toddx77
toddx77

I'm probably going to be the odd man out here but I really do not care at all. If EA wants to see what games Im playing, sites I visit, who I talk to, what programs I download it doesn't bother me one bit. Even if they give that information to a third party I still don't care as long as things like my bank account numbers aren't stolen. I could be watching porn and a window from EA could pop up saying they are monitoring what kind of porn Im watching I would be like " ok, doesn't matter to me lol"

LeadnSteel
LeadnSteel

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]