Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Spyware, now coming to a game near you!

Electronic Arts has shipped their newest game: Battlefield 2142.

I was pretty interested in this until I discovered how they will be implementing their controversial in game advertising.

A small slip of paper in the disk case reads:

"The software may incorporate technology developed by IGA Worldwide, the advertising technology. The purpose of the advertising technology is to deliver in-game ads when you use the software while connected to the Internet. When you use the software while connected to the Internet, the advertising technology may record your IP address and other anonymous information. That advertising data is temporarily used by IGA to enable the presentation and measurement of in-game ads and other in-game object which are uploaded temporarily to the your PC or game console, and change during online gameplay. The advertising technology does not collect personal or identifiable information about you."

Let's step back and analyze that with some knowledge of modern internet tracking technology. First, dynamic IP addresses more and more are geographically assigned by your ISP. If I enter my IP address into this search page, and click the "Find City" button (and it's just one site among many) it knows where I am within about a mile radius. It knows my ISP, my country, state, town, zip code and even the rough neighborhood in which I live. It's trivial for advertisers to use that info to target local ads to my game.

If I have a static IP registered to my name or business, it's almost as easy to know my exact address, and from that I can back-search to get my name, email, phone number, age, spousal status, land ownership records, driving habits, legal records, etc.

You getting worried yet? You should! This is classic spyware/adware at it's very worst. Even if they don't store the IP address permanently, (and who believes that?) they already know more than they should about you just from playing a game!

My advice, skip this one.

Updated news on this issue.

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