Wednesday, January 4, 2012

SOPA: An Eve Angle

One of the political battles in the United States that should interest on-line gamers concerns legislation called Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act.  The major backers of the bills are the entertainment (movie, music) industry and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce while Internet-based businesses like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Zynga, eBay, Mozilla, Yahoo, AOL and LinkedIn oppose the measures.  SOPA, the more restrictive measure, would basically impose a "death penalty" on Internet web sites in that the federal government could obtain a court order that it could serve on internet providers, making a web site basically disappear.

So how could this affect on-line gamers?  I think after last year when the Sony Playstation Network was hacked twice and SOE had to suspend its MMO service that players are nervous about Internet security.  According to an article on CNET, SOPA could damage efforts to make the Internet more secure.
"The idea of DNSSEC is to promote end-to-end encryption of domain names, meaning there's no break in the chain between, say, Wellsfargo.com and its customer. Requiring Internet providers to redirect allegedly piratical domain names to, say, the FBI's servers isn't compatible with DNSSEC.
"Rep. Dan Lungren, who heads the Homeland Security subcommittee on cybersecurity, has said that an 'unintended consequence' of SOPA would be to 'undercut' the effort his panel has been making to promote DNSSEC.
"The Sandia National Laboratories, part of the U.S. Department of Energy, has also raised concerns about SOPA, saying it is 'unlikely to be effective' and will 'negatively impact U.S. and global cybersecurity and Internet functionality.' And Stewart Baker, the former policy chief at the Department of Homeland Security who's now in private practice, warned in an op-ed that SOPA 'runs directly counter' to the House's own cybersecurity efforts."
Another way that gamers could be impacted is if the opponents of SOPA like Google, Facebook and Wikipedia use the "nuclear option" and go dark for a period of time in protest.  Many games use Twitter to reach out to their player base when things go bad, but the biggest impact of getting nuked could be for gamers searching for answers when playing their games.

Drilling further down, how can this issue affect my primary game, Eve Online?  Currently Eve's developer, CCP, has a huge financial stake in its new game, DUST 514.  The game is designed to link into Eve Online, meaning that a successful launch of DUST will benefit Eve.  But that future could depend on the stability of the Playstation Network.  For the second year in a row, Anonymous plans to target Sony, this time for the Japanese company's support of SOPA.  Although the gaming division of Sony has announced that they do not support SOPA and never have, a list put out by the House Judicial Committe lists Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Sony Music Entertainment and Sony Music Nashville as supporting the measure.  While Anonymous has announced it does not plan to target Sony customers, any cyber attacks on Sony could impact the DUST 514 beta, perhaps even leading to a delay in the game's launch.

Of course, SOPA could provide some benefits.  One of the big issues in Eve Online, as in other games, is botting and illicit real money transactions.  If game companies can ask the government to impose the "death penalty" on those types of sites, then they will take a huge financial hit.  And on a personal note, I may need to disable all the hyperlinks in the posts I've made on CCP's War on Bots™ or I might find the "death penalty" imposed on me.

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