EA’s Battlefield 3 German Spyware Scam

EA’s Battlefield 3 German Spyware Scam

Since launch, it appears Battlefield 3 has brought with it a lot of controversy in Germany. The controversy seems to centralize around the Terms of Service of EA and the Origin service itself. Ever since the Google Street View incident, the people of Germany have really been protecting their personal rights.

The general consensus is that the German Origin program (which comes bundled in with Battlefield 3) appears to install spyware on to your computer. Although at the moment no clear call can be made as to whether there is truth behind this claim – only time will tell, once official tests have been run. Though, until then, German gamers have been in uproar.

“The Devil is in the contract details” 

Firstly, German gaming magazine GameStar have went as far as to hire a professional lawyer to analyze the ToS of EAs Origin – the findings were somewhat shocking.
To summarize the findings, EA enables themselves to gather all the information on the computer and process the data, which has the potential to escalate in to a privacy violation.

German Source – Translated Source

“Origin analyzed my tax program!”

Members of the Amazon forums have even used a “Process Monitor” to scan exactly what Origins is doing and where it is looking. The user has posted pictures of the program accessing files of their tax management program (Picture/Video) and their cell phone manager (Picture).

“Battlefield 3 is the worst rated game on Amazon ever”

It appears German gamers have went as far as to down rate Battlefield 3 on Amazon. As well as unverified reports talk about 90,000€ loss on Amazon alone from returned copies of the game.

German Reviews – Translated Source

“Retailers accept the return of opened copies of BF3!”

The German electronic retailers Media Markt/Saturn have openly announced that they will accept returns of opened and used (namely the online pass) copies of the game.

German Source – Translated Source

“Attention rising with print media”

The attention has been so great even print media articles have been released in the “Lübecker Zeitung”, you can see a picture of it here, the article is in German.
The headline says: “Datatrap in new shootergame

“Fight for files / Spyware included”

German Radio station 1Live presents an article about EA on their website.
Battlefield 3 was the most anticipated game of the year for many people…But EA is belived to put Spyware (Origin) into their game what is a mood killer for the gamers.

German Source – Translated Source

“Games giant wants to spy on customers”

This is the headline of “Der Spiegel” – the biggest and most renowned media company in Germany. The topic was brought up as and remained the top article of their website.

German Source – Translated Source

“Online petition to take Battlefield 3 off the shelves in Germany!”

Some of the protesters started a petition to stop selling Battlefield 3 in Germany as an preventive move. “The publisher of the game,
EA, has got paragraphs in their ToS that clearly infringe the German laws. EA enables themselves to have complete access to sensitive data.
This selling stop is not permanent but until the company changes its ToS in such a way that it does not interfere with the law.”
By now, almost 4 000 people signed this petition. If they get 50 000 in 90 days, the politicians will talk about this in the Federal Council of Germany.

German Source

Is this Universal?

Some major questions arise from this knowledge. The first one that occurs to me is, is this universal? Origin is not just bound to Germany, we also run it here in UK and US. It would seem unusual for each region Origin would get its own build. Meaning we are all running the same build of Origin as the Germans; so, are we in danger too?

Is this real, or a rumor spiraling out of control?

With all the evidence and media attention behind this, it’s beginning to become harder and harder to believe this isn’t true. Don’t quote me on that – as I hope it isn’t. We won’t know conclusively whether this is true or not until we get official word from qualified anti-

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