EA backtracks (slightly) over disturbing data-mining Origin user agreement

We’ve been grudgingly getting used to the idea of being forced to play EA’s PC games through its Origin download service, but things just took a turn for the invasive. Like 'constantly-watching-from-just-outside-the-window' invasive. A frankly terrifyingly worded End User License Agreement for Origin states that, in theory, EA can swim through all of your hard drive contents, like a data mining mermaid. Although not quite in those words.

Above: EA's Origin store is like Steam - and is becoming the only way you can play new EA games on PC

After outcry on internet forums, EA swiftly amended the EULA on its website slightly to assure customers that all the information gathered will be “non-personally identifiable”. However, when we tried to run a fresh install of the service on our laptop, we got the old EULA in the program, which left us very confused.

Even with the possibly amended contract, a close look at the information the company can legally gather would still include IP addresses, which could theoretically identify users. Either way, look at the kind of data it can still legally collect from your computer if you agree to install a game:

The new EULA reads: "The non-personally identifiable information that EA collects includes technical and related information that identifies your computer (including the Internet Protocol Address) and operating system, as well as information about your Application usage (including but not limited to successful installation and/or removal), software, software usage and peripheral hardware."

So that's the games you play, the applications you use… even what kind of keyboard and mouse you use. Furthermore, they will still have the ability to provide all this information to marketing partners, without providing a conventional opt-out option. If you don’t like it, EA politely request that you don’t install its software. Because privacy rights are nothing compared to a tailored advert.

Above: Either you agree to have your privacy invaded, or you can't play Origin games

In comparison to Steam's EULA, which can gather data on any product related to Steam, EA's is worded in a way that still suggests that it can collect data from anything it deems "related" to its service. While it may be unlikely EA has an abnormal interest in anything not related to its games, the fact remains that if you agree and install the service, you’ll have no leg to stand on if EA decide to see what treasures lie on your hard drive.

This leads to a remarkably troubling question - which should never be asked - for PC gamers. Do you assume that EA is going to play above board and have just worded this poorly (despite its formidable team of lawyers scrutinising every last character to ensure it's watertight) or do you miss out on games like Mass Effect 3, Battlefield 3 and any other EA exclusive in the upcoming future?

EA’s PR rehabilitation had practically seemed complete in the past few years, but if this is a sign of things to come from the publishing behemoth, they could undo all that good work rather quickly.   

25 Aug, 2011

Sources: Rock, Paper, Shotgun, EULA for Origin, The Escapist

Written by Ben Tyrer, with us on work experience from Bournememouth University, UK.




  • Scelus - September 11, 2011 6:28 a.m.

    Way to go EA! Perhaps your new slogan should be: "EA games Supporting piracy everywhere!" It's things like this that makes piracy seem like a good idea. Just go and hug steam, Origins? More like Gestapo. So much for freedom and respecting peoples privacy. Perhaps thats what Piracy should be called, Privacy!
  • Jedipimp0712 - August 30, 2011 1:31 p.m.

    i second everyone who says "time to pirate" because i am NOT getting origin after reading this. EVER. im going to laugh when the smart PC gaming community decides that its not going to buy any games from origin. after BF3 comes out, ea is going to publicly apologize to their community. Once they apologize, BF3 is going to hit steam, and i guarantee origin will no longer be supported. because frankly i am not going to be getting anything dealing with origin. i LOVE the battlefield series, as well as the mass effect series. BUT, i am not willing to let EA be complete arseholes and try and take my hd info. there is a reason it is called a "PERSONAL COMPUTER". and honestly, i dont think anyone can realize how irate the pc gaming community is over all of this origin bullsh!t. just wait until there are riots and protest just like there was over modern warfare 2 dedicated servers only. you would think after hearing the VERY PUBLIC outcry over the whole origin situation, that ea would cut their losses now. i hope Anonymoous decides to take them down for being such corporate greedy arseholes.
  • Dintin - August 30, 2011 10:47 a.m.

    I encrypt my hard drive. Go for it EA. If you can crack an AES security encryption form my desktop, I'll be impressed. Then again you'll never get the opportunity, because I'm going to get all your games for free, behind seven proxies.
  • azureguy - August 27, 2011 3:02 a.m.

    Origin could've had a fair chance, especially with Battlefield 3, but this definitely ruined it. Steam is doing hardware surveys, which are OPTIONAL, but Origin is all-intrusive. Well, Call of Duty is still on Steam, so this is gonna be a duel against the two. I can't wait to hear how the PC versions of both games are gonna perform.
  • AttroPheed - August 25, 2011 4:26 p.m.

    So EA assrapes my megahertz or I don't play their games? Guess which option I choose? Nice knowing you EA. I'm not a pirate but I think I'll make a special exception in your case.
  • dale-coventry - August 25, 2011 3 p.m.

    Someone at EA has clearly just watched the Human Cent-iPad episode of South Park and thought "how can we do that in real life?" Battlefield 4 will probably be a copy of the game surgically attached to a real life soldier and a real life terrorist. Sandwiched in between it all would be every PC User that buys the game.
  • lilspooky - August 25, 2011 11:11 a.m.

    Dear EA! FU! I just uninstalled Origin! No day one buy for BF3, i am waiting for the sh!t storm to be over.
  • D0CCON - August 25, 2011 10:50 a.m.

    I'd say this could be a bigger strike to Origin than games being pulled on Steam. I suddenly have no desire to use it (although the only big game series they have that I will only buy on PC is Dragon Age, so I'm not missing out on too much).
  • YourRedComrde - August 25, 2011 10:30 a.m.

    It's disappointing to see how bad this got screwed up, if EA had just put on their big-boy pants and kept selling games on steam, it's unquestionable they would have had a higher profit. But when they pull stupid stuff like this, they start not only to use money but customers. Origin is getting the hell outta my computer, and for the most part, so is EA.
  • Shanetexas - August 25, 2011 8:21 a.m.

  • komadose - August 25, 2011 8:01 a.m.

    too bad Battlefield 3 requires Origin. it's kinda the only game i wish to play in the foreseeable future, so i'm gonna have to bend over for EA...
  • Fetalspray - August 25, 2011 7:34 a.m.

    They'll have to wash their eyes if they look at my hardrive.
  • sleepyMexican45 - August 25, 2011 3:12 p.m.

    are you an Activision fanboy... :p
  • Carlovic - August 25, 2011 7:33 a.m.

    I still have believe that EA and steam can work something out. It is not pocket change what BOTH companies will lose if they keep fighting. But if everything fails, and origin is the only alternative, a lot of people would rather just torrent the damn games, even if it hurts our main gaming platform. sad times.
  • Mooshon - August 25, 2011 7:20 a.m.

    I hate the idea of this. Especially the 'do it or f*ck off' approach but it doesn't surprise me one bit. Unfortunately the way the world is going the game/content is really only a method for extracting valuable personal data (read ad revenue) for marketing. The line is also now getting extremely blurred on privacy invasion and actual ownership of data. Like @db1331 said; get deleting your pc cookies and stop visiting any website - especially Gamesradar which is filthy with advertising. The 'cult like' (their real term!) GR readership is actually a promoted USP for prespective ad partners. The only answer is an Arab style revolution of the establishment and powers that be I'm afraid... or swallow the c*ck, try to pretend it never happended and get playing the game.
  • Maverik770 - August 25, 2011 7:06 a.m.

    Uggh, now I'm a jackass because I browsed away and back to this page and my post is fixed with proper spacing... Really wish I could delete my last post now. :O
  • oryanbelt - August 25, 2011 9 a.m.

    So EA's License agreement is basically spyware now... Should have seen this coming >_>
  • Maverik770 - August 25, 2011 7:04 a.m.

    Adn wow, thanx Games Radar for just wall of texting my entire rant... I had that all nicely spaced out with separate sentecnes, paragraphs and structure. But your site decided to just remove all of my spacing and smash it together in one horrible wall of text. And since I can't edit the post, I can't fix it. Terrible, simply terrible...
  • Maverik770 - August 25, 2011 7:01 a.m.

    This doesn't surprise me one bit. EA has laid low for the last few years whil everyone has been harping on Activision. But I knew these slimey f**ks would be back to pull some more sh!t. Companies like EA just don't care about who or what they invade, hurt, disrupt, squash, etc. as long as they get their f**kin' money. They have the "Big Bully" syndrome where they always think they can just forcibly take or do whatever they want as if they're entitled to it because they're E f**kin' A. First they want to harm the PC gaming market by splitting the community between Steam and Origin by making their published titles exclusives to Origin. Now they want to sniff our hard drives for any information they deem "interesting". Why can't they just do something FOR the community for once instead of for themselves. Atleast Valve are developers and gamers as well as publishers. They get it with Steam and their games. They understand how to make money from the consumer yet still support the consumer and stay on their side. PC gaming was in a seriously bad way before Steam. Steam helped to bring PC gamers together into a single community. Steam has anywhere between 2 and 3 million people online at all hours of everyday. That's seriously impressive. PC gaming was dying because it's community was fractured between a bazillion different gaming services. It was so impossibly difficult to share more than one game with your friends because everyone had to buy the game from some where and then download and install whatever digital service that game was utilizing at the time, whether it be Gamespy or some other service. Plus the next game you bought used the next service instead of Gamespy. So players never built an actual community together except in single titles or maybe a continuing series at best. Steam changed all of that and made the PC online community much similar to Xbox Live or Playstation Network (of course much better than those as it's PC). Now companies like EA, Gamestop and Game UK have their panties all in a bunch because Valve is making a sh!t ton of money off something they had all abandoned. Where the f**k was EA when PC gaming was going down the sh!tter? They were busy signing exclusive contracts for Madden football and Playstation 2. Where was Gamestop and Game UK? They were pushing every PC game they had into boxes in the back room or one tiny dusty shelf in the back of the store. So Valve does all the hard work and ressurrects the PC gaming community and NOW all these greedy, f**k ass companies wanna hop back on the band wagon and start taking a big cut of the profits through schoolyard bully tactics?! F**k that. F**k EA. F**k Origin. F**k Gamestop and Game UK. Yall weren't here to help PC gamers when we needed the support and now yall want to destroy one of the greatest things we got going for us in Steam just so yall can make a bunch of money you never really worked for. You make me sick.
  • AnonymouZ - August 25, 2011 6:42 a.m.

    hmmm, i already have this installed... stuff like this makes me think twice about having the son of a bitch on my computer. at all. dlc be damned.

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