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Description

I would like to know where is the limit between the data I am allowed to store and the data that is private. I don't know if there is a legal limit or if it is ethical. I know what kind of statistics the games usually display but there may be others that they hide. I would like to collect data and combine them to make conclusions, I don't want the player to see the raw data.

Some examples

  • 1) Information about the character (usual data)
  • Number of type A enemy killed.
  • Max gold collected.
  • ...
  • 2) Information about the player himself
  • Number of hour played.
  • Time when he started to play.
  • Number of time playing between 11pm and 6am.
  • ...
  • 3) Information about the messages (if there is a chat in the game for example)
  • Number of message sent.
  • Most used word.
  • Most contacted person.
  • ...

I would prefer not to display a warning on the first launch of the game saying that informations are being collected or something like this.

The actual question

My question can be separated into the following questions:

  • Am I allowed to collect type 1, 2, 3 datas ?
  • Is there a difference of autorisation if the datas are stored/used localy or in an online database ?
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  • \$\begingroup\$ What type of game? If it's an MMO, 1 and 2 are readily available to you, and should (probably) pose no issues. If it's a client-only single-player game, you will need to get agreement for the exfiltration. You can tie this to the EULA, but I'd recommend a specific opt-in/opt-out option to disable this behavior. To prevent people yelling at you, you must warn them on first launch if it's enabled by default, and some legal jurisdictions probably mandate it be off by default. Depending on what you plan to do with 3, ranges from immoral to nobody cares. \$\endgroup\$ – Clockwork-Muse May 21 '14 at 10:11
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In short, the rules are pretty blurry but the big companies have consisently proved in the past that really (although this shouldn't be the case) as long as the user agrees to it in the "terms of use" or some other agreement you can technically record anything you like.

The point at which things get really complicated is around financial data like bank or card details where there are standards around how the data must be stored in order to prevent the data being stolen and used elsewhere.

Since this is purely game related data I would be inclined to say that when the user signs up technically you already got the "worst" bit of data in this sense of the word in that you took a bunch of personal information (name, address maybe, email address, possibly even age / dob).

The key is pre agreed terms of use, without which you can hit problems further down the line.

Did you know:

Microsoft famously put a clause in the windows EULA stating they can delete software from your pc they deem "illegal".

Facebook have been slated for sharing personal information despite their terms of service stating that users technically cannot prevent this by using their service.

There are plenty of examples of companies succumbing to government or organisations like the NSA and opening up access to their databases without prior approval from the owner of that data (the signed up user) on the grounds of "crime prevention".

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  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ which is why most ToS add a disclaimer about court ordered inspections and such \$\endgroup\$ – ratchet freak May 21 '14 at 11:26

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