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POL System Scan Privacy Issues? OP Updated 5:39am EST Mar 9Follow

#1 Mar 08 2007 at 11:57 AM Rating: Good
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New edit: I will edit to add notes as needed, since replies to this thread expand on this, and I didn't post them originally, or they were brought up by other people, etc. Much of the information people have disputed in regards to "which of these policies applies to what SEI services, etc" can be found in the first paragraph of any of the related user agreements.

The membership agreement also cites which privacy policy applies to these services, and, that both the membership & user agreemtns together, along with the privacy policy, to form one complete agreement.

I posted the "how I reached phoning" a little lower down in this thread, for ease of finding it, you can ctrl+f for my reply that starts with "I started my update around 3pm EST yesterday" or just scroll down til you see it.

If you'd like to seriously debate/dispute this, please, I urge you, read the entire thread and not just this OP, it's getting tiresome repeating the same things said hours ago :(

No offense to anyone in particular, I'm a cranky kitty...

Other relevant link(s):
From the Federal Trade Commission - the "Fair Information Practice Principles" - which might answer some of your questions in regards to "Why complain about a silly little game?" (and keep me from repeating myself :D), I wholeheartedly support the points made therein.

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Old post follows new post -


I phoned the California Office of Privacy Protection to ask about their responsibilities as a businessed based in California, was told that I should be able to "opt out", that I should be able to ask and recieve information on what measures their company takes to protect my information, and that I should be able to point out innaccuracies in their privacy policy to enact a change to that policy.

So from the top down:
They don't have an "opt out". Opting out = not playing. Fair enough, though it still doesn't cover opting out of "anonymous user statistics".

The person I spoke to on the phone this time, Casey, was unable to tell me what measures they took to protect my information, as he "wasn't a network technician". Not cool, but also not my primary complaint.

I was then directed to the legal department which can only be contacted via snail mail "at the address listed on the website". (It's not listed, btw.)

So, I phoned the Office of Privacy Protection back again, as I have no other recourse, and spoke to a rather nice gentleman on the phone who said that, while he was not a lawyer and could not therefore recall the statutes that were being violated, but as a general guideline, all information/data/etc collected and transmitted had to be disclosed, and that if their privacy policy did not include "process information and information stored in virtual memory" (see the link to the WoW agreement at the end of the post), then the policy was inaccurate, and that they would take steps to ensure that it was updated.

So... end result? The California Office of Privacy Protection is drafting a letter (CC'd to me) to Square Enix, Inc. (based out of El Segundo, CA) informing them of the inaccuracy of their privacy policy in the hopes that it will be updated. They then have (quoting their website now) 30 days from reciept of the letter to comply (New note: ..comply with the California Online Privacy Protection Act of 2003).

This is not a Windower debate.

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Old post:
I phoned PlayOnline. I spoke to Charles, who would give no further identifying information (ie. ID#, etc) to distinguish himself from any other Charles who might be employed there, but did mention that he was the "only Charles in the information centre".

In short:

Yes. pol.exe is scanning your running processes and memory.

Yes. This data is being transmitted back to SEI.

The first time the guy stated that it was being transmitted back, he assured me that it was only to check for third party apps. I pointed out that this was not acceptable under the terms of their current agreement.

I was then placed on hold for about 20 minutes.

When I came back from being on hold, I was informed that the data collected was in line with their software agreement, and then quoted off to me a section of their privacy policy regarding to collection of personal data during account creation. I'd like to note here that I cannot find their privacy policy on the playonline website, I can only find the User Agreement, their GM policies, behaviour guidelines, and their website Privacy Policy, despite the User Agreement clearly stating that the POL/FFXI Privacy Policy can be found on www.playonline.com. (Charles also directed me to the website.)

UPDATE: Thank you Deadgye for providing the proper link to the policy! Quotes now added from https://secure.playonline.com/supportus/rule_polservice.html
Charles read to me: wrote:
1. Information Collected During the Registration Process
We require Users to register with us in order to access a number of the products and services offered on PlayOnline. During registration, we ask you to provide us with certain information that personally identifies you (referred to herein as “Personal Information”). Personal Information may include your name, date of birth, telephone number, mailing address, E-mail address, and credit card account information, as well as any other information that may be used to identify you. Personal Information is collected so that we can provide you with the PlayOnline services you requested, contact you to verify your Personal Information or PlayOnline account activities, notify you if there is a problem with your account, and enhance the services that we provide to you. After registration, you will be given a PlayOnline ID and a PlayOnline E-mail address, and asked to choose your own passwords. We strongly suggest that Users not choose passwords that can be easily recognized or guessed by others, and that they take steps to protect the confidentiality of their password information.


When I mentioned that the section he was reading off to me clearly stated that it was in regards to account creation, I was then told that the data was being collected as "traffic data" (
Traffic data definition wrote:
Collection of Traffic Data
SEI may also collect certain anonymous usage data, such as pages visited and services used within PlayOnline (collectively, “Traffic Data”). This information is not Personal Information and generally is not aggregated with Personal Information. We generally use Traffic Data to improve our services to you and to customize and enhance your PlayOnline experience.

)and that SEI would be using it to "help improve my PlayOnline experience".

Part of the quote adding update: I bolded. SEI didn't. I just wanted to highlight that bit since it displays that "Traffic data" does not encompass my process list or random whatever the **** they're collecting that would be in my RAM/virtual memory/whatever.

Interpret at will.

For comparison of agreements, please check under "Acknowledgements" in WoW's agreement, which can be found at http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/legal/termsofuse.html

Pick one, Charles. Are you scanning for third party apps or are you collecting traffic data to improve your internal systems? Do we need to rehash the Blizzard issue?

Edited, Mar 8th 2007 11:13pm by Arketa

Edited, Mar 8th 2007 11:29pm by Arketa

Edited, Mar 9th 2007 5:42am by Arketa

Edited, Mar 9th 2007 5:32pm by Pikko
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#2 Mar 08 2007 at 12:17 PM Rating: Excellent
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I... must be the only privacy advocate playing FFXI :/
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#3 Mar 08 2007 at 12:17 PM Rating: Excellent
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So SE techies are looking at what's on my PC?

Quick! Download pron!!!!!
#4 Mar 08 2007 at 12:21 PM Rating: Default
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You act like this is a bad thing. What exactly do you have to hide that makes you worry so about this?
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#5 Mar 08 2007 at 12:26 PM Rating: Good
Wow.

Haven't had vast armies of Windower users screaming about being banned yet, so I'm assuming they haven't yet used whatever data they might be collecting. But...I'm a little scared now. Assuming you're telling the truth (and you're a whole lot more convincing and well-spoken than our average "ZOMG THEY SCANNING UR APPS U GONNA GET BANNED" poster) they will probably decide to use this info at some time in the future. And they can pretty much ban us for whatever they feel like, as per user agreement. So...I guess it's a good thing my patch hasn't downloaded yet, because I haven't had a chance to launch FFXI with Windower and possibly ***** myself.

Cue the "Windower is/isn't cheating" argument and the "They can/can't do that because it is/isn't illegal" argument. Oh, and RMT, can't forget that one.

I'm thinking I just won't play until they release their windowable version. Anyone know if Vanguard's gone public yet?
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#6 Mar 08 2007 at 12:29 PM Rating: Good
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Quote:
You act like this is a bad thing. What exactly do you have to hide that makes you worry so about this?


I love this argument. How would you feel about having security cameras installed inside your house? After all, it's not like you have anything to hide right?
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#7 Mar 08 2007 at 12:31 PM Rating: Excellent
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If I were to be banned for using windower, and only windower, I don't think I want my money going to SE anyway.
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#8 Mar 08 2007 at 12:31 PM Rating: Excellent
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KyrilFenrir the Irrelevant wrote:


I'm thinking I just won't play until they release their windowable version. Anyone know if Vanguard's gone public yet?


It has, and it wasn't ready. Brad McQuaid, shame on you :(

I was in beta since the end of phase 1, and I'm not playing retail after buying the collectors edition, etc.
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#9 Mar 08 2007 at 12:34 PM Rating: Excellent
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It's not about "having something to hide"


it's more "because I don't like it"


The curtains in my room stay closed, FOREVER, I will open the window but curtains must always stay closed, not like people are gonna look anyway (3rd floor flat), or I have anything to hide, but, just don't like it.

I am sure many people share this feeling.


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#10 Mar 08 2007 at 12:40 PM Rating: Good
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So um...in non-technical terms, they're scanning my computer to see what programs I have runnning? Or what?

If they start banning people for using windower, that's going to be a lot of ****** off people. This game should have that capability to start with IMO.
#11 Mar 08 2007 at 12:42 PM Rating: Good
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Asshandler wrote:
You act like this is a bad thing. What exactly do you have to hide that makes you worry so about this?


This guys sounds like a Bush Admistration bobble head. Just because I have nothing to hide doesn't mean I shouldn't have rights. gfy.
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#12 Mar 08 2007 at 12:43 PM Rating: Good
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Time to download Processguard
#13 Mar 08 2007 at 12:45 PM Rating: Default
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Well, then let them ban Windower users. Though, it doesn't make any sense, since they are making a windowed version of their own.
#14 Mar 08 2007 at 12:50 PM Rating: Decent
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If you don't like POL scanning your processes, you can always stop playing.
#15 Mar 08 2007 at 12:57 PM Rating: Default
I know that I don't cheat and I don't want anyone else cheating ruining the game for me so I think that scanning your pc for 3rd party apps is a good thing.
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#16 Mar 08 2007 at 1:02 PM Rating: Good
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Yes it's a good way to figure out who is using third party software but the fact remains that they are doing this without mention. That alone is an invasion of privacy and against TOS.

#17 Mar 08 2007 at 1:16 PM Rating: Good
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And... to reiterate:

It's not that they're scanning my system.

It's that they've yet to disclose that my system would be scanned (at which point I could have chosen NOT to run the software).

Again, compare FFXI's agreement to WoW's. That's what it SHOULD look like post-update. It does not.
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#18 Mar 08 2007 at 1:20 PM Rating: Decent
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Would you be willing to scan the letter and post a link to it online? Or send it via e-mail? I'd like to have a look at it myself.
#19 Mar 08 2007 at 1:22 PM Rating: Decent
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Quote:
If you don't like POL scanning your processes, you can always stop playing.


Exactly.

However, if the argument is that SE doesn't feature this info in their user agreement, then the OP has a valid argument.

But if it's in the disclosure agreement, then you have no right to complain if you want to play the game.
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#20 Mar 08 2007 at 1:25 PM Rating: Good
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That IS the arguement. It's not listed in clear cut English in their privacy Policy. They are trying to hide behind some other term and pass it off as "we are scanning your PC and there's nothing you whiny little ******* can do about it."

When you write a contract, you can't make up the rules as you go along. The Privacy Policy specifically hasn't been updated since October of 2006. You can amend to the terms all you like, but you actually have to AMEND them, not just sit there and say something that meant something in 2005 means something totally different in 2007.

Edited, Mar 8th 2007 4:27pm by Erawyn
#21 Mar 08 2007 at 1:28 PM Rating: Decent
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I honestly can't relate to your upset.

I understand your concern, but this only applies while you're running the game (i.e. it's not like SE is monitoring your activity 24/7, as security cameras would), and you really can opt out by not playing the game.
SE isn't interested in anything that isn't affective to their game. It doesn't matter what's running, as long as it doesn't give you an advantage.

I must agree with some others here who have said 'if you have nothing to hide, who cares'. It's not 24-hour monitoring, and you don't HAVE to play the game if you're this worked up. How many other programs would you have running anyway?

I don't know. Personally I don't care a whit, the disabling and prosecution of fleehackers and poshackers is worth a system scan to me. It will make the RMT easier to nail, and that's worth it in my opinion.

Dear God no, SE might find my Firefox running or something. I don't get it.
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#22 Mar 08 2007 at 1:29 PM Rating: Good
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Lol, its not about windower or anything 3rd party. Just about scanning your computer without your knowledge.

Imagine this:
You are renting an appartment, and the owner decides to install spy cameras in your appartment without telling you. The camera only activates at night after 10PM and stops monitoring after you wake up.

Lol would you just say "if you dont like it then leave the appartment"?

Edited, Mar 8th 2007 4:32pm by caudexs
#23 Mar 08 2007 at 1:30 PM Rating: Good
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Erawyn wrote:
Would you be willing to scan the letter and post a link to it online? Or send it via e-mail? I'd like to have a look at it myself.

I had just gotten off the phone after the message I posted above, so it'll be a few days before I recieve the letter. But yes, I'm willing to post any correspondence I have with the Office of Privacy Protection and/or SEI, assuming it isn't prohibited somewhere by some nutty law :P

If it helps at all, the guy from the OPP (Office of Privacy Protection - I've been avoiding using that acronym, since to me it means "Ontario Provincial Police") said the letter would be "educational" and that most companies comply willingly (he made it sound like he meant jovially instead of willingly, lol), but their website does state that they (SEI) have 30 days to comply with California law after recieving a complaint.

Asshandler wrote:
However, if the argument is that SE doesn't feature this info in their user agreement, then the OP has a valid argument.

But if it's in the disclosure agreement, then you have no right to complain if you want to play the game.


And no, it's not in the agreement anywhere (I think I said that? now I have to re-read my OP for errors again :P), which is why I called them this morning. Yesterday I figured it was the usual update joke thread ie. "zomg, FFXI iz hacking joo!", but today when I loaded POL for the first time since the update, I found it wasn't a joke.

So, I checked the website for policy updates, read and reread the policies a few times, one thing led to another, and I placed the first phone call...

Edit: Typing... failing... "to me" not "to mean" lol

Edited, Mar 8th 2007 4:31pm by Arketa
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#24 Mar 08 2007 at 1:33 PM Rating: Decent
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I use windower and some plugins, they either know everyone now that uses 3rd pt apps or they check when they GM you. Really I think they simply wanted to get an idea of what people are using and the numbers involved, they will probably remove it pretty quick if pressure is applied but it has probably already done what they wanted.
#25MasterThief, Posted: Mar 08 2007 at 1:33 PM, Rating: Sub-Default, (Expand Post) Who @#%^ing cares. Don't @#%^ing cheat morons and you won't have to worry about a **** thing. I am HAPPY they're scanning my processes. Because it's obvious Windower does not flag them at all. So too bad on the "OMGz! I GOT the Banstick for using Windower!" naysayers. Stop @#%^ing cheating.
#26 Mar 08 2007 at 1:36 PM Rating: Excellent
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Quote:
I honestly can't relate to your upset.

I understand your concern, but this only applies while you're running the game (i.e. it's not like SE is monitoring your activity 24/7, as security cameras would), and you really can opt out by not playing the game.
SE isn't interested in anything that isn't affective to their game. It doesn't matter what's running, as long as it doesn't give you an advantage.

I must agree with some others here who have said 'if you have nothing to hide, who cares'. It's not 24-hour monitoring, and you don't HAVE to play the game if you're this worked up. How many other programs would you have running anyway?

I don't know. Personally I don't care a whit, the disabling and prosecution of fleehackers and poshackers is worth a system scan to me. It will make the RMT easier to nail, and that's worth it in my opinion.

Dear God no, SE might find my Firefox running or something. I don't get it.


The problem is them not TELLING us. They want to shove the ToS down our throats so much, how it's against the ToS to do this, how it's against the ToS to do that, yet they aren't even following their own Privacy Policy. All they have to do is amend the Privacy Policy to say "Yes, we will scan your computer for any unwanted programs that might interefere with FFXI and give the player an unfair advantage" and this topic wouldn't even have been brought up.

As a paying customer, I have the right to see an amended contract when they decide to add new goodies to it. Otherwise, I am not accepting their amended contract when I click the "Accept" button, I'm only accepting the one available to the public. I can't, legally and lawfully, accept a contract with new amendments I know nothing about.

Quote:
Who @#%^ing cares. Don't @#%^ing cheat morons and you won't have to worry about a **** thing. I am HAPPY they're scanning my processes. Because it's obvious Windower does not flag them at all. So too bad on the "OMGz! I GOT the Banstick for using Windower!" naysayers. Stop @#%^ing cheating.

But a warning to those that do use Windower, when they implement the window mode. Might want to opt out of using Windower. It's possible they'll give a warning then start enforcing it. Doubtful but totally probable knowing SE.


You're a moron. You didn't read the post at all.

Edited, Mar 8th 2007 4:38pm by Erawyn
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