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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » EA - Origin Client Investigation Begins

Default EA - Origin Client Investigation Begins

July 14th, 2014, 09:37
WCCF Tech has news on an on-going investigation on EA's Origin Client. The concern is the client is spying on you by file snooping. This was a concern a few years back also.

Update: A slight clarification on my part. The screenshot only proves that the origin client is actively looking at the list of the programs recently run. Basically it shows that origin is aware of the files you have on your PC (that have been run).

[Report] A very interesting thread on the Reddit was sent to me by my colleague Tyler Roemhildt. It turns out that EA is snooping files aka spying on your usage habits via the Origin client. And it looks like this is more or less confirmed because Origin representatives claim “they are trying to get to the bottom of this”.



Privacy is a very sensitive topic in the world of Internet and one of the biggest gaming clients spying in your usage habits is cause for concern. Now what exactly does “usage habits” mean? Well, from the looks of it, Origin is taking its merry time looking around the personal files on your computer, most probably when they are running, and this includes your browser as well. Now while we do not know whether it can spy on your browsing activity as well, the mere fact that it is accessing the browser process is discerning.
More information.

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July 14th, 2014, 09:37
it looks like this is more or less confirmed because Origin representatives claim “they are trying to get to the bottom of this”.
So EA "got to the bottom of" my extensive porn collection.
Oh, they just wanted to see how many of their scam DLC are on my PC, nothing else… Poor EA.

Someone should finally sue them.

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July 14th, 2014, 11:31
I wonder if investigating the Origin client is against the laws. It might be associated to reverse engineering.
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July 14th, 2014, 12:03
Anyone surprised?Uplay probably does the same.I have little more faith in steam not spying on me but I wouldn't really be surprised even if it turn out they do it too.
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July 14th, 2014, 13:14
Originally Posted by Nameless one View Post
Anyone surprised?Uplay probably does the same.I have little more faith in steam not spying on me but I wouldn't really be surprised even if it turn out they do it too.
That's how these application find files/programs to associated with their launchers.

But like ChainAboyeur said, what does people are doing might put them into legal troubles more than EA.
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July 14th, 2014, 13:19
Originally Posted by Nameless one View Post
Anyone surprised?Uplay probably does the same.I have little more faith in steam not spying on me but I wouldn't really be surprised even if it turn out they do it too.
Not very likely. uPlay is not stuck in your tray by default and launches only when you're playing uPlay DRMed game.
Origin, when installed, is automatically up and stays running 24/7 no matter if you're playing it's game or not, spamming commercials and doing god knows what else (well… now we know what else might that be).

Originally Posted by ChienAboyeur View Post
I wonder if investigating the Origin client is against the laws. It might be associated to reverse engineering.
Since when reverse engineering of a malware is illegal? If it suddenly is, all antivirus companies are as good as dead.
Just to make something clear. Malware is a piece of software that does something you're not aware of and are not happy with when you learn what it is. Virus is not malware to it's creators.

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July 14th, 2014, 13:48
The difference between Origin and a virus is, that Origin is a copyrighted product with an EULA that you accept on its installation. It's owned by EA. So they have some different rights than the creator of a virus. The creator of a virus or some other serious malware will never sue you for reverse engineering. EA perhaps will because Origin's EULA states:
Except, and only to the extent that may be permitted under applicable law, you may not decompile, disassemble, or reverse engineer the Application by any means whatsoever, or alter, modify, enhance, or create a derivative work of the Application.
Whatever this "applicable law" might be then…
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July 14th, 2014, 13:57
Originally Posted by joxer View Post
Not very likely. uPlay is not stuck in your tray by default and launches only when you're playing uPlay DRMed game.
Origin, when installed, is automatically up and stays running 24/7 no matter if you're playing it's game or not, spamming commercials and doing god knows what else (well… now we know what else might that be).
I don't run Origin 24/7. I only start it when I start a game that use it and I can even close it once the game is started.
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July 14th, 2014, 14:38
Originally Posted by ChienAboyeur View Post
I wonder if investigating the Origin client is against the laws. It might be associated to reverse engineering.
Might be safest to let someone in Tonga do it lol
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July 14th, 2014, 14:39
Originally Posted by Morrandir View Post
EULA
I don't think in there they wrote the software will be spying on stuff outside of Origin folders.
Even if it was, what, if in EULA it was said "you accept not to sue EA if EA CEO kills your mother" that would make EA killing people a legal business?

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July 14th, 2014, 15:22
Originally Posted by joxer View Post
I don't think in there they wrote the software will be spying on stuff outside of Origin folders.
Most likely the did not, but that's completely irrelevant when it comes to the question if it's allowed for the application to be reverse engineered.
It may be allowed if there's an "official investigation" (don't know the correct words) by the police. But that's a thing a court has to decide.
Even if it was, what, if in EULA it was said "you accept not to sue EA if EA CEO kills your mother" that would make EA killing people a legal business?
No, because an EULA as every contract itself can (partly) be illicit making the conclusion of the contract invalid.
I guess EA can afford to pay skilled lawyers to avoid stuff like that.
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July 14th, 2014, 16:06
EULA are notoriously difficult to enforce. The easiest EULA breaches to enforce are those that deal with profit for the breacher. The most difficult are 'social contacts' built into the EULA such as 'you agree to not publicly criticize this product' or 'you shall not perform benchmarking tests'.

On a personal note, I find it annoying when I check access logs and see what files have been scanned by Steam/Origin/uplay when they have no business in there. It doesnt show me what specifically it looked at, just that the whole file was accessed.
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July 14th, 2014, 16:09
Well aside from looking at a process monitor seems they haven't done much yet.

I don't see why EA should put this to the lawyers.
They are already the most hated company but their games don't seem to sell less for it, i guess some more PR disaster won't matter much.
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July 14th, 2014, 16:42
Originally Posted by Thorwyn99 View Post
They are already the most hated company but their games don't seem to sell less for it, i guess some more PR disaster won't matter much.
It's citizen/consumer duality. In US people generally hate Walmart yet shop there all the same.
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July 14th, 2014, 17:04
It's worth remembering that breach of EULA by eg reverse engineering = EA sues for damages in civil law. It must say what damage it suffered, prove that a person did the reverse engineering rather than repeated what somebody said, and claim the sums of damage it suffered.

If EA on the other hand, is breaching various data protection, privacy laws and unacceptable contract clause = criminal as well as regulatory and civil, ie the state/government pursues and possibly class action civil by licensees.

It would be ironic indeed if EA took a coder to court and claimed before a judge "as a result of the reverse engineering, the truth came out and we lost xxx in sales due to tarnished reputation".
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July 14th, 2014, 17:17
If anyone starts a class action lawsuit for breach of privacy, I'll jump on board.
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July 14th, 2014, 17:34
I'll just say this. I'm in EU. There is no way EU courts would accept any EA's terms of service and whatnot - if it's an obvious scam. And no lawyer can help them.

You may write anything in any contract. But if it's initially against laws or even against the constitution, well sorry, you're a scammer and as such should go to jail. Or get banned from gaming industry already!

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July 14th, 2014, 18:56
I would suspect that many of the game clients see what files have been run or are running. I remember reading about how Blizzard did with Battlenet to see if you were running any cheat programs, and I am guessing that Valves VAC would have to be able to do something similar to tell if you had a hack running. I am not sure an anti-cheat system would be very effective if they didn't do so.
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July 14th, 2014, 22:21
If this is true, and Origin in poking around people's computers in a way that is illegal then I really hope they get the pants sued off of them.

Their EULA may have you 'agree' to things that are NOT enforceable in court - much like a Landlord cannot kick somebody out of rental without a proper notice even if you make a lease agreement where each party agrees to such eviction process.

EA is the poster boy for capitalist greed… and I say that as someone who is pro-capitalist. They need some serious humbling if they are willfully breaking laws. Then again I'm heavily biased as I've loathed EA for a very long time. My last EA game purchase was probably early on this century.

If I'm right but there is no wife around to acknowledge it, am I still right?
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July 14th, 2014, 22:23
Originally Posted by azarhal View Post
I don't run Origin 24/7. I only start it when I start a game that use it and I can even close it once the game is started.
^this
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