No, EA isn’t spying on you with Origin. Probably.

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spying

Ever since Microsoft’s Kinect got linked with the NSA and Sony’s PSN got hacked, security and privacy have been big buzzwords for gaming consumers. People are worried that gaming companies are watching their every little digital move. According to some reports, EA is doing just that.

A screenshot posted by DrSniper121 on Reddit (via WCCF tech)  shows what Origin is doing with your files, purporting that the client is spying on your usage habits.

Here’s the image in question. Everything is in garbled text, because it uses a rather simple ROT13 cipher – but it shows that Origin is certainly going through all of your files.

OriginSnoop

Some of the processes that Origin is accessing include Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, iTunes and Foxit Reader. The whole thing’s caused enough of a ruckus that an Origin Community manager has responded.

“Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I’ve been working with our live operations team to fully investigate this issue. Origin is not spyware, and there should be no privacy snooping operations of any type. I hope we will be able to update you guys on the investigation soon, we’re gonna get to the bottom of this……Please message me any additional details or info that will help us investigate. We take claims like this very seriously.”

Is Origin really snooping about on your PC and invading your privacy though? Signs point to no. All it is is Origin using the built in Windows UserAssist tool, which is built right in to Windows keep data such as running counts and last execution time; it’s a bit of internal housekeeping. If EA’s Origin is mining your data, so is Windows itself – along with Steam, Battle.net and just about every other service you’d care to run. There is nothing dodgy going on here at all.

Of course, that doesn’t preclude EA from spying on you, if their EULA is anything to go by. Here’s what it says.

EA collects non-personal information along with personal information when you actively provide it in the context of various online and mobile activities including online and mobile purchases, game registration and marketing surveys, for instance. In addition, we and other third parties use cookies and other technologies to passively collect non-personal demographic information, personalize your experience on our sites and monitor advertisements and other activities as described below. We may also derive from the information collected other facts, such as determining the applicable tax rate based on your IP address.

By playing an EA game through a social network or other third party platform or service or by connecting to such a third party network, platform or service via one of our products and/or services, you are authorizing EA to collect, store, and use in accordance with this Privacy Policy any and all information that you agreed the social network or other third party platform could provide to EA through the social network/third party platform Application Programming Interface (API) based on your settings on the third party social network or platform. Your agreement takes place when you connect with the third party network, platform or service via our products and/or services, and/or when you connect with, “accept” or “allow” (or similar terms) one of our applications through a social network, or other third party platform or service.

EA may also collect or receive information about you from other EA users who choose to upload their email and other contacts. This information will be stored by us and used primarily to help you and your friends connect.

The advertising companies who deliver ads for us may combine the information collected or obtained from EA with other information they have independently collected from other websites and/or other online or mobile products and services relating to your web browser’s activities across their network of websites. Many of these companies collect and use information under their own privacy policies.

These ad serving technologies are integrated into our sites, online or mobile products and services; if you do not want to use this technology, do not play.

I’m pretty quick to point out EA’s failings, but this latest bit of ire directed at EA seems to be EA hate for the sake of it.

Last Updated: July 14, 2014

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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