Terms of Service History and Clarification

By GM Grimmi
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Greetings,

As many of you may be aware, CCP made some changes to the Terms of Service (ToS) last week. The purpose of the ToS update was not to change anything in regards to policy or how we handle cases involving impersonation. The purpose of the update was to pull bits of existing policy into a prominent place where everyone would be able to see it, rather than requiring players to dig through EULA and Naming Policy to fully understand all the rules regarding impersonation.

Our goal in this blog is to clarify with our players some of the history and thought behind how CCP has handled Impersonation in the past, and how we intend to handle it as we move into the future.

First, a history of Impersonation of other players and the EULA:

CCP archives show that this Impersonation clause in the EULA was slightly different at the very beginning of EVE Online’s history. For roughly a year (May 6th, 2003 - April 13th, 2004) it looked like this:

"No player may use the player name of another player to impersonate or falsely represent his or her identity."

The clause was then updated, and an archived version of the EULA from June 29th, 2004 shows the current version:

"No player may use the character name of another player to impersonate or falsely represent his or her identity."

This clause has remained unchanged since 2004, and Customer Support has always interpreted it as prohibiting impersonating of another player by using their character name, be it by imitation of name through spelling trickery or claiming to be alt of that player, as stated in this forum post back in 2008 for example:

“Posted - 2008.08.13 23:17:00 - [65]

To provide some clarification - impersonating another player, be it by creating a character with a similar character name as someone else or simply claiming you are the alt of someone (such as the 'I'm your CEO's alt' scam as described by F'nog), is not allowed.

Regards,

GM Krymus

It has come to our attention that many of our players, while aware of rules regarding similar naming, were not aware of CCP’s policy regarding false claims of identity, but we will get to that a bit later in the blog.

Second, a brief history of the Naming Policy:

By checking out web archives of the CCP Naming Policy one can find the following:

On December 11th, 2003 the "EVE ONLINE USER AND CHARACTER NAME POLICY", as it was known back then, stated:

b. Character names may not:

* Impersonate or parody any employee or representative of EVE Online, CCP, Siminn, Customer Support personnel or volunteers.

* Impersonate or parody an NPC type from the EVE game world (i.e. CONCORD or other official NPC corporation or organization members) for the purpose of misleading other players.

c. Player-run corporations, factions, organizations and player-owned items within the EVE Online game world are also subject to these rules and policies. Players may not create, promote or be a member of a group that violates the policies outlined herein. Membership or participation in such a group may result in character deletion, temporary suspension or termination of a subscriber’s account.

On June 10th, 2013 we made a few updates to the policy, the name of it was changed to "EVE Online Naming Policy" and we updated the policy to clarify that it included other names than character names. For this purpose the following parts were added/clarified:

b. In- game names may not:

* In-game names include, but are not limited to: Character names, corporation names, alliance names and any other player-nameable item or entity within the game world.

c. No player may use the character name of another player to falsely represent his or her identity. Player created corporation and alliance names also fall under this policy, as do names of any other in-game entities.

These changes did not elicit any concern from players at the time. As such we did not expect the ToS update to do so either, since it was simply made to get all the above bits and pieces of policy regarding impersonation into one place where everyone could see it.

The Recent Past.

We understand that many of you were upset with the changes to the ToS. We believe that this is largely due to a misunderstanding regarding how Customer Support has enforced its policies in the past—hence the above “intro”.

In the past many players interpreted the EULA and Naming Policy to mean that one could not imitate a player or group’s name through UI or spelling tricks (e.g. - Capital i instead of lowercase L, “Chriba” instead of “Chribba”). Many (including both scammers and their victims) did not realize that it was also against the policy to falsely state your identity by using another Player’s, Corporation’s, Alliance’s, or other in game entity’s name. This could clearly have been made, well, more clear.

The Path Ahead.

After hearing the feedback and concerns of our players, we have decided to take a deeper look at what we should and should not be enforcing. Customer Support will be working with the Game Design Department and the Council of Stellar Management (CSM) to sort this whole thing out. However, given the consistent, long standing nature of these policies, it is also possible these groups will conclude no further change is required.   As with any binding document like the ToS, making changes can sometimes take some time, and we appreciate your patience as we look into the matter. In the meantime, we encourage all those with constructive input or feedback on the matter to talk to your CSM here.

We at CCP are committed to making New Eden the best and most immersive “sandbox” universe in all of video games. As universal stewards we realize the players are the driving part behind its wonder, beauty and danger. We constantly discuss the “boundaries” of the sandbox in departments throughout  the company and appreciate that there are times when discussion should be focused on specific areas such as this.