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Spyware in upcoming computer games
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chihawk
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PostPosted: 2006-06-24 07:41    Post subject: Spyware in upcoming computer games Reply to topic Reply with quote

http://www.kotaku.com/gaming/left-behind/left-behind-infected-with-bornagain-spyware-182789.php

Quote:
A group tracking religious rights activities says the Christian game Left Behind is wall-to-wall spyware. Game play and ad viewing will be tracked once the title is installed on PCs. The software can't be deleted or removed. Moreover, it apparently locates where in the world your computer is and reports how many times a day you use it.



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Karagin
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PostPosted: 2006-06-24 11:07    Post subject: RE: Spyware in upcoming computer games Reply to topic Reply with quote

Good thing I don't play those games.

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SaberDance
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PostPosted: 2006-06-24 12:34    Post subject: RE: Spyware in upcoming computer games Reply to topic Reply with quote

OK. HOLD ALL PHONES.

Something about this didn't sound right, so I started digging.

First step, track the story back to it's source. Followed the link provided and checked their source. It's Talk2Action, and their web-report is here .

I read the report and it still smelled fishy, so I did tried to follow their links. The most damning one they have leads to the company Double Fusion, whose website is here . More on this in a moment.

I then google-fu-ed Talk2Action's story. Every claim that DF's program includes tracking data leads back to T2A's report. Where it promptly dead ends.

T2A is also not that reliable a website in this regard. Their attitude seemed haughty to me, so I checked to see if someone had responded to their story. Someone had. Though I don't vouch for them, their story seems to hold up with game reviewers, corporate media releases, and other news sources. The rebuttals and response can be found here and here .

I went to DF's website. They are an advertiser, no question there. However, I don't think what they do can properly be called spy-ware. Their software connects the computer to the internet to their server. The server then broadcasts paid advertisements to the computer. This isn't, by my reading, any more devious than the blog-ad scroll to the left of many blogs I read, or the blue-screen commercials dropped in behind the batter at a Red Sox game. It does not transmit viewing data back. When the advertising company ends it's promotion, the add is no longer broadcast to your computer. When your computer isn't turned on or connected, there is no new add, hence the advertising agency isn't paying.

Their explanation is here

But it doesn't seem to track your movements or your viewing habits, nor does it track your mouse-clicks. That's the fish growing another inch in every telling.

Game companies like it because it makes their worlds contemporary. Left Behind Games bought the software so that their New York Times Square would look like the real Time's Square rather than be dated by what was on the walls when the game went on the market.

Companies like it because their markets play games.

The technology isn't any more intrusive than the Nielsen boxes on some TVs.

I'll have some thoughts on the game later, maybe.
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