Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Monday, January 28, 2013

QOTW: The boy who cried wolf

I'll try to make this quick, since my biases around CSM7 member Darius III are well-known by this point.

On Friday, Darius III (D3) made an interesting claim on the EVE Online forums:
In mid 2012 I was contacted by a leader of one of the largest alliances in the game and he asked me if it was true that CCP was intercepting player communications.

Indeed that was true-CCP intercepted player communications.
EVE News 24 picked up on the story and expanded on it not long after the message was posted on the forums.  The short version, as I understand it?  CCP developers are known to play EVE, but are discouraged (but not forbidden) from taking place in large-scale sov warfare.  In this case, one CCP employee apparently claimed to Darius III that a second CCP employee playing EVE on the side of the Honey Badger Coalition used his access to tap into either personal EVE mails or alliance EVE mails of the Southern Coalition during the war between these two groups in mid-2012.

Under the various rules that manage communications between EVE players and CCP employees, plus the additional rules that D3 agreed to when he became part of the CSM, he believed he could not legally share this information at that time.  But at some point in the last six months, D3 apparently received additional confirmation from some public source that confirmed his original information.  Since the second source was public domain, he supposedly now feels comfortable revealing this information.

Remember: this isn't me saying these things.  This is me doing my best to present what I believe happened from D3's perspective while trying not to judge.  Got that?

Great.  Let's start judging.

Let's get the obvious bit out of the way: I would be stunned if CCP didn't monitor and log in-game player communications.  If I make a claim of real-life threats or harassment and the supposed perpetrator denies it, how is CCP supposed to confirm or refute these claims and then take appropriate action without such logs?  So the real question here isn't whether CCP intercepted those communications.  I think we can accept that as a given: CCP captures everything you write in EVE mails, alliance mails, and chat logs and stores it somewhere.  The real question is "Did a CCP employee use player communications to his or her own advantage, or to the advantage of the in-game entity that employee was part of?"

And that comes down to CCP internal accountability: who has access to those logs, and under what conditions may they be accessed?  That's the part we don't know about, and the part D3 isn't sharing.

The problem here, though, is that the claim fails the Occam's Razor test: what is more likely?  That a CCP employee risked his or her paycheck, reputation, and the welfare of his or her family for the very dubious benefit of providing intel on an alliance that was massively outnumbered and outgunned and wavering on the edge of defeat anyway?  Or that SoCo communications were compromised by one of EVE's legion of player spies, and someone thought it would be "funny" to claim that their information came from a rogue CCP employee?  Which are you more likely to believe?  Yeah, me too.

But fine, let's say for a moment that D3's unnamed source (that he can't reveal) is a current or former CCP employee who is absolutely irrefutable and his proof is likewise beyond question.  I can hardly think of a more ironic messenger for this message than someone who literally owes his positions on CSM6 and CSM7 to outright lying to hundreds and hundreds of EVE players over a long period of time!

Talk about the boy who cried wolf!

So yeah, I detect a bit of a credibility gap.  We'll see where this story goes, if anywhere.


  1. I might be missing stuff but where does all this about the HBC and SoCo come from?

    AFAIK Darius only said 'CCP intercepts player communications' in the thread.

    1. It's in the EVE News 24 follow-up.

    2. So basically riverini made it up? Or does he provide sources?

    3. No, the EN24 article says that's the communications that were compromised: some kind of SoCo communications during the SoCo/HBC war.

  2. D3 still trying to be relevant? This is even worse than that incursion hurf-blurf a while ago. Seriously,D3?

  3. You know, when I read that article, coupled with also reading all of Nosy Gamer's reporting on the war on bots, I wondered if, assuming D3's claims are true, this had something to do with Alliance level RMT, and what was actually intercepted was out of game communications, which would be kind of a big deal. I have no way of knowing either way, purely speculation.

  4. That's a big one. And I think I just stepped in it.

  5. It could be true. Would they be caught? Judging from CCP's past coding practices, I'd be surprised if they had any logging mechanism for who accesses player communications. So, even if it were true, the chances of anybody being "caught" are likely nil.

    1. "I'd be surprised if they had any logging mechanism "
      as a Unix/DBA, capturing access on important DB tables is a minimum best practise you set. Not using the many features the various DBs are providing for protection from data theft would be simply the worst case of stupidity I've ever seen.. and I've seen many. So I have strong reasons to belive that the above statement - if came from CCP - is what we call Management Bullsh**t

  6. Personally, I'd believe the data got leaked, but not by CCP. With eve-skunk out there, a little bit of forum hackery or other data mining and you too could have access to a leader's evemail.

    Chatlogs would require more malicious access, but I have to agree with the Occam's Razor argument. After the T20 scandal (not to mention current climates), I can't imagine CCP looks too kindly upon employees screwing up the game.

  7. The CCP employee could be single and young you know. It does seem unlikely one of the older married CCP employees would risk so much.

    If anything, perhaps some people are just pulling Darius' leg and getting a joke out. But who knows, maybe more information will come out, or perhaps more information won't come out.

  8. What big alliance uses in game mail and chat for internal private conversation anyways? Almost all alliances of 0.0 note have Forums/IRC/XMPP (Jabber)/Skype what have you. D3 post further fails the smell test in that way. What CCP employee is going to risk getting in trouble for something that does not hold any sensitive information anyways?

    1. Supercap channels always have sensitive information. And regarding "what CCP employee", it's been known to happen before and more frequently than you think.

  9. Employees sneaking into private data is quite common:

  10. bet it's even simpler, Jester. Taking your assumptions and seeing a pattern where this was none:
    (1) harassment needs to be checked
    (2) claims of ccp employee accessing comms

    1+1= some jackass decided to claim harassment and as soon as confirmation on petition went through against SoCo member, said jackass had PROOF ccp monitored SoCo comms.

    heh. OMG PROOF. lol

    1. Except it would be unlikely the submitting player would have any confirmation of any sort from CCP other than a form letter stating the ticket had been received and the issue would be investigated.

      Standard practice for these kinds of complaints in the MMO industry is that the original submitter of the issue is NEVER told of the final outcome, and this is very often relayed in the initial ticket response.

      So some jackass can submit as many tickets as he likes. Confirmation that the ticket has been received is not confirmation that CCP ever did anything (or even could do anything) about it.

  11. Yet another conspiracy theory. Weak.

    D3 has been a non-entity for a long time now, and this is nothing but a pathetic attempt to get a bit of time in the spotlight.

    It really isn't possible to question his credibility any more, because he doesn't have any - the gap has become a chasm.

  12. Dear Darius,

    I dare you to spill it. ;)

  13. As I understand it, D3 ran as a troll candidate and everyone who voted for him knew that going in. He was literally elected to do nothing and, in my humble opinion, has achieved all of his goals and kept all his campaign promises. I got exactly what I bargained for and, heh, my vote counted! If he runs for CSM8 (and isn't banned) I'll vote for him again.

    How long is the NDA the CSM members sign in effect for? Realizing that the length of time itself is quite possibly confidential and covered under said NDA, I'm going to speculate that it's open-ended for as long as EVE Online is marketed and sold. Lack of contradictory responses by those in the know will be taken as confirmation.

    1. Most NDAs do not expire, since information which is considered company confidential can remain so indefinitely, such as client information.

      Typically, an NDA no longer applies to specific information, when the company publicly releases said information. The NDA still applies, however, in cases where the information has been unofficially released or leaked, even when the source is an employee of the company.

      In other words, if a CCP employee decided to talk about some company confidential material to EN24, off-the-record and not in a capacity to officially represent CCP, anyone else who is under an NDA would not be legally permitted to discuss the material, without violating the NDA.

  14. I hate to say it, but... T20. CCP employee risked his job to provide an in-game benefit. And CCP handled it so well that, well, they created the CSM in order to save themselves.

    But CCP never really, truly, sincerely owned up to the whole mess.

    That's what gnaws at me, the cover up that CCP initiated and the lame statements from them after the fact. Hillmar was not happy that information was kept from him, he said, but apparently took no action.

    I hate to say it, but CCP still has not expigated their T20 sins. Does this mean what Darius has to say is true? No, of course not. But given CCP's track record, it doesn't mean it isn't either.


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