EA’s new business plan…selling user’s data to the highest bidder

I’m one of those weird people that read EULAs, and have refused to install some software based on the rights asserted in them. EA has been on my “Egregious Violators” list since the whole Spore Debacle, but their newly launched downloader, Origins, takes privacy concerns to a whole new level. Origins is required to play many of EAs games, since EA has severed relationships with other vendors like Steam.

If you have an old version of an EA downloader; you will be constantly prompted to switch to Origins. But installing Origins gives EA the right to have a service that:

  • Is always on (not just when you’re playing an EA game)
  • Scans your ENTIRE system and reports back everything you have installed
  • Monitors internet usage and tracks browsing history
  • Sells that information to 3rd party advertisers

It further goes on to reference the EA Privacy Policy which says: “Information collected will vary depending upon the activity and may include your name, email address, phone number, home address, birth date, mobile phone number and credit card information.” Further down, it reads: “When you use EA online and mobile products and services or you play our games on your PC or console, we may collect certain non-personal demographic information including gender, zip code, information about your computer, hardware, software, platform, media, mobile device, mobile device ID, console ID, incident data, Internet Protocol (IP) address, network Media Access Control (MAC) address and connection. We also collect other non-personal information such as feature usage, game play statistics and scores, user rankings and click paths as well as other data that you may provide in surveys, via your account preferences and online profiles or through purchases, for instance.

Additionally, EA has plans to launch Origins on mobile devices, and have social network hooks, so not only can they sell the data they can gather from your hard drive, they can also sell the data from your phone and your friend’s list. Nice.

Users who have installed Origins report that no icon for the service appears in the Windows Tray, but that multiple processes associated with it are running in the background constantly. I have read no reports of uninstall issues, so I don’t know if this app, like their rootkits did, will leave hooks in the system that make it almost impossible to remove.

See, here’s the thing that bugs me: I don’t want how I go about my daily life to be a cash point vector in someone else’s business plan. When I buy a product from a company; a fair exchange of currency for product has occurred.  That should be the end of the transaction. I should not, by virtue of purchasing a good or service, then be assigning to that company the right to continuously make money on me by selling the contents of my hard drive, or browsing history, or anything else.

It appears that EA doesn’t think it can make enough money by just selling, distributing or producing games.  That it has put in place a business plan whereby they continuously make money by selling their user’s data to the highest bidder. And while I want to support games, game developers, and the game universe as a whole, I unilaterally refuse to sign up to give my data away for free so some EA executive can have a new Bugatti.

Further reading:

I’ve Got Nothing to Hide’ and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy ” by Daniel J. Solove.

RockPaperShotgun writes: EA’s Origin EULA Proves Even More Sinister.

Escapist Forum Member The_root_of_all_evil goes through the EULA with a fine tooth comb.

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