EA’s Origin EULA Proves Even More Sinister

By John Walker on August 24th, 2011 at 2:11 pm.

Why so sinister, EA?

As spotted by the canny denizens of the Escapist forum, there is a quite extraordinary clause in the EULA of EA’s new game service, Origin. One that may well make you think twice about letting the software on your PC. Under the title of “Consent to Collection and Use of Data”, the clause states that by installing Origin you are giving EA permission to “collect, use, store and transmit technical and related information that identifies your computer, operating system, Application usage (including but not limited to successful installation and/or removal), software, software usage and peripheral hardware.”

Which is to say, if you want to play Battlefield 3, or any other game that will require Origin to run, you’re going to have to agree to that.

The full clause reads,

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.

It’s not unusual for such software to collect information from your computer relating to itself, and it’s not unknown that using that software means you agree to this information being distributed anonymously to third parties. Steam, for instance, warns that it will,

“store information on a user’s hard drive that is used in conjunction with online play of Valve products. This includes a unique authorization key or CD-Key that is either entered by the user or downloaded automatically during product registration. This authorization key is used to identify a user as valid and allow access to Valve’s products. Information regarding Steam billing, your Steam account, your Internet connection and the Valve software installed on your computer are uploaded to the server in connection with your use of Steam and Valve software.”

But there’s a significant difference. Valve’s policy is self-restricted to anything on your PC directly relating to its own products. EA’s is so broad that it gives the publisher permission to scan your entire hard drive, and report back absolutely anything you may have installed, and indeed when you may use it, and then pass that information on the third parties.

Now, they may well mean for this clause to provide them the same opportunities as Valve’s and others’, intending only to allow information about the use of Origin, and Origin-run software, to be fed back to their sinister super-computers. It could simply be in place to provide a better service for Origin customers. But crucially, that’s absolutely not what you’re agreeing to when you absently click “Agree” during the install. What you’re agreeing to is for EA to have a free pass to scan your PC and gather absolutely anything it wants.

And then even more creepily, they say they intend to take such information, combine it with personal information about you, and use it to advertise directly to you. However, when selling on this free-for-all on your computer’s contents, they’ll at least remove personally identifying information. Gosh, thanks.

It strikes us as beyond acceptable. And so much more serious now that EA has made its intentions clear to make so many of their games exclusively delivered through Origin. Were there a choice about what you’d use to play Battlefield 3, Mass Effect 3, etc, then gamers could opt out of allowing Origin on their systems while such a policy is in place. But instead it’s a case of agree to such remarkable terms, or don’t play their games at all.

We’ve contacted EA to ask if they understand gamers’ shock at this policy, and to find out if there is any chance of its being revoked, or heavily re-worded. This isn’t an issue over publishers having their own distribution services, and Origin works fine for me. But when you’re asked to give up such fundamental personal information to be able to use it, and when it’s the only option to play games, this becomes an extremely serious matter.

This is of course the second time the wording of Origin’s EULA has caused concern, with previous worries that they were reserving the right to delete accounts after two years of inactivity, which they’ve since put at rest. We’ll let you know as soon as we hear anything back from EA.

Edit: Some have pointed out that similar clauses have been in previous EA EULAs. Two things: Firstly, often it was optional whether you played those games online, and as such sent such data. Secondly, that doesn’t make it okay! It’s still an enormous violation of privacy that deserves being addressed.

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360 Comments »

  1. Shooop says:

    Well that’s it for BF3 then. This officially killed that game dead, and possibly any other future EA game depending on how fucking stupid they decide to be in the future.

    Off to preorder Serious Sam.

  2. Pointy says:

    Having read the entire comments section :

    I understand the amount of emotion and annoyance generated by having your privacy compromised but what I also find interesting is how LOUD people are being about saying ” I d o n ‘t c a r e ! ! ! “,

    Surely, if you didn’t care you would be more apathetic about it and less angry?

    So, one side is angry because of the privacy issue and the other side is angry at the the other side for being angry?

  3. Shooop says:

    Well that kills any EA game for a while in my book. Other software does do this too to a lesser extent (tracks usage and whatnot to give devs an idea of how it’s working) but decent companies always throw in an opt-out option right before you’re done installing it.

    Given that BF3 only has 9 maps included and the rest will be pay-for DLC I was ready to tell them to go fuck themselves as it was. Cheers RPS for this important news.

  4. Laephis says:

    Nothing like an abuse of privacy to bring out the corporate apologists.

    Good work, RPS, don’t ever let up.

  5. Laephis says:

    Nothing like an abuse of privacy to bring out the corporate apologists (Hi Kadayi!)

    Good work, RPS, don’t ever let up.

  6. Pointy says:

    Having read all the comments :

    One side is angry because they see a breach of there privacy, while the other side is angry at the others for being angry?

    If you really just didn’t care then there would be a whole lot more apathy and less throwing fuel on the fire, as it were.

  7. ABearWithAGun says:

    If you support EA on this, you are an ignorant child, simple as that. The sole purpose of a business is to make money. They don’t give the slightest fuck about you or your right to privacy. You think they’re going to stop here? They’re going to go as far as consumers will let them.

  8. DOLBYdigital says:

    EA never ceases to amaze me…. never… I know many other companies do similar things and I personally hate capitalism and commercialism…. I just wish video games would return to when they were just a hobby by passionate and creative people. Now they are a huge business where profits are the only goal and fun is an after thought. It honestly makes me sick when I sit back and look at where this greedy greedy world is headed… I feel bad for the next generations that will witness water wars and other atrocities created by mega corporations/countries…. sorry for the semi-unrelated rant, it was a long day at work

  9. PersianImm0rtal says:

    Join the boycott today! http://steamcommunity.com/groups/bf3boycott

  10. huxleyseven says:

    I have company confidential information on my computer so couldn’t countenance using Origin.

    However, I’m hoping I can just use sandbox software to install Origin inside. Sandboxie and others like it can isolate programs, allow them to work normally, but not access other parts of the system. I’m REALLY hoping Origin and BF3 will work with this…

  11. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    Oh dear.

    I wonder if pirates would have to put up with this nonsense, it is getting harder and harder to justify spending my hard earned cash to be treated like a criminal y’know.

  12. mana says:

    So I buy a new EA game from a store. I go to install it… suddenly I find out (by reading the very fine print during the install) – oh hey, we have complete freedom to access anything on your hard disk and report back on it, AND tie that info to your personal details… Seems a bit much when all it is is a bit of entertainment (ie a game!). This REALLY needs to change, and by putting pressure on them, they will do (see EA turn around on 2 year limits, or UBISOFT or BETHESDA)

  13. Midarc says:

    In a thread over on the EA forums they recently posted an updated EULA.

    Will link it and the thread.

    Haven’t read the damn thing yet, too late to be doing that, but worth checking out eh?

    http://www.ea.com/1/product-eulas

    http://forum.ea.com/eaforum/posts/list/15/7488935.page

    There are wording differences, but I can’t tell at a glance if it shows any real change, at least it shows they’re paying attention.

  14. ASBO says:

    Well good luck with origin people

  15. bob marley says:

    Well i better get the ld xox fired up because im nett agreeing to that ive got pictures of my kids on my pc its just so ea can wach porn

  16. Synn says:

    HUMANCENTIPAD

  17. Nutrion says:

    @Jacques says:
    “Just because they can, doesn’t mean they will.”

    Don’t be stupid of course they will, otherwise there is no reason to add it in the first place.

    “Fact of the matter is, being able to gather data about your customers is massively useful, for any company. Be they a games company, a supermarket or whatever. ”

    It doesn’t matter one damn what that its useful to them, its none of their damn business. An NO business should be allowed to do this. (Infact I seem to remember this being illegal in some European countries, we’ll see if the game gets banned)

  18. ScumBa says:

    So the best thing we could do is prevent the Origins & Steams accessing any other folders than those where the game(s) are installed in. Or catch their requests to do so and return absolutely nonesence information.

    This is not againts their EULA.

    The question however is, is this possible in windows? Must Origin & Steam software run in an adminstrator environment or can we chroot them somehow?

  19. Griefindor says:

    I’am one more person waiting for EA to change their EULA.
    This is why we hate EA, not because they destroy the games they touch but mostly because they think they can do whatever they want.
    Well know what? SO CAN COSTUMERS, by choosing other developers and by not buying EA games.
    EA must learn: Respect your costumers and costumers will respect you.

  20. dellphukof says:

    ooops, my fault…i thought i didnt found something on it here..gotta check better next time , hehe..

    THX Firestorm. So what? Steam does this. As do a lot of other applications.Ive got registry mechanic and it scans my hard drive AND sends ‘information’ oh noes! A lot of programs do this doesnt bother me a bit.Maybe they are worried that their wives or mommies will find out how much they play games or how much porn they have on their computers.
    The game will also use Punkbuster which scans the hell out of your computer.seo service