Major developer Epic Games banned a player because his name was on the U.S. blacklist, and did not allow the user to make an account for ‘Paragon’ beta. The mistake begged the question on why the policy was even applied to such a level, security concerns aside.
Muhammad Zakir Khan, a professor at the Broward College in Florida attempted to sign up for the MOBA-like first person shooter game ‘Paragon’. Upon trying to submit his request for an Epic Games account, he was hit with an unexpected message. It stated that the account creation process has been blocked as a result of his name featuring on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list.
Khan instantly snapped a screenshot of the message and posted it on Twitter with the message “My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist. #islamophobia” directed at Epic games. It appears that the flawed filtering system has made a major mistake that has somehow gotten past testing.
The SDN list is published by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) with the purpose of tracking down criminals working within the country. It’s often circulated around major companies in order to prevent them from working with terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, criminals involved in the production of weapons of mass destruction, along with other that might threaten national security.
Reportedly, one such name coincided with Khan’s.
The user tweeted the message, and Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney apologized, stating that the ban was an error due to bad coding. The problem was not only that Khan wasn’t actually on the SDN blacklist, but that the name alone should have not resulted in a ban. That was a result of an error on top of another error.
Furthermore, the filter should’ve never worked on a consumer-level for something as simple as a beta sign up for ‘Paragon’. Its purpose was to prevent access to Epic Games’ main and famous game tool, Unreal Engine 4. Thus, the filter should have only been used at a company level for detecting potential commercial companies who wish to use it.
Sweeney apologized and stated the problem caused by an “overly broad filter related to U.S. trade relations”. It should have never imposed the restriction based solely on the name.
Since then, the problem was been reportedly fixed. Khan never experienced such an issue before, stating that he is grateful the mistake was repaired quickly, surprised that it wasn’t caught earlier, but fundamentally hurt by the experience.
Image source: gmedia.com