EA Germany has denied claims made by German gamers and journalists that its Origin service is invading their privacy.
Germany's privacy laws are amongst the toughest in the Western world. It should come as no surprise that EA's Origin service - which is mandatory for gamers wishing to play Battlefield 3 on PC, and has been criticized for invasion of privacy before - has come under fire in the country known for challenging Google streetview and banning the Facebook "Like" button. German gamers are taking the situation pretty seriously.
The furore began a few days ago, when pictures that appeared to show Origin accessing non-related programs and data synced from cell phones were released online. Der Spiegel, one of the biggest newspapers in Germany, responded by printing a list of items from the Origin EULA which it claims could contravene German privacy law. German gamers responded by bombing Battlefield 3's Amazon.de rating down to one of the lowest on the site and returning their store-bought copies of the game. In an unusual move that illustrates the seriousness of this situation, high street giants Saturn and Media Markt have both started giving customers full refunds on used copies of the game, even those with used PC keys.
Now EA Germany has responded by updating Origin's EULA to ensure both "clarity" and "legal compliance." In a statement, the company said that, "EA takes the privacy of its users very seriously. We have taken every precaution to protect the personal and anonymous user data collected."
"We do not have access to information such as pictures, documents or personal data, which have nothing to do with the execution of the Origin program on the system of the player, neither will they be collected by us," it continued. "We have updated the End User License Agreement of Origin, in the interests of our players to create more clarity."
The statement also notes that Origin's privacy policies are "industry-standard" and that the company intends to work with "the relevant Government agencies to ensure that our policies are and remain legally compliant."
If the comments on Battlefield 3's Amazon.de page are anything to go by, German gamers are genuinely outraged by Origin's snooping activities. Many of the comments are lengthy diatribes written in German so angry that Google Translate is rendered almost useless (the one thing that is clear, though, is the repeated phrase "Nein danke" - "No thanks"). Understandably, many of them say that they just want to play their games without having to give EA access to their system data. There's a wider debate to be had over whether or not companies should highlight these parts of their EULAs, and about whether or not they should be forcing people to sign up for them just to access widely-anticipated titles. We'll keep an eye out for developments, but right now, these German gamers have made their thoughts abundantly clear.