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10:10am on Tuesday, 31st January, 2023:

Common ID


In December, the European Parliament's report on consumer protection in online video games was released. I've only just got around to reading it. This is the penultimate paragraph:

This illustrates one of the problems that the EU has. Decisions are made with the best of intentions by a consensus of smart, highly-educated people who nevertheless don't think through the consequences of their deliberations, lacking as they do sufficient knowledge in all subject matters. It's why we have all those irritating messages on web sites that we habitually click through and so accept all kinds of nefarious cookies.

A European identity verification system will work about as well as the one in South Korea, which is to say badly. It's irritating for honest people and easily-subverted by dishonest people.

How will players outside of the EU play games based in the EU? Is the EU's identity verification system going to work for them, too? Well no, it isn't. Even if somehow it did, Americans aren't going to sign up for it in droves, and neither are players in the Far East. This proposal is effectively saying that games with servers in the EU can only be played by players who are in the EU. Expanding the EU's games industry to the borders of the EU is building a massive walled garden, not extending the EU's civilising reach.

Will companies with servers outside the EU have to verify that users coming from the EU are who they say they are? EVE Online is a single-instance game with its servers in London. Are EU players still going to need their identities verified, or can game operators avoid all this hassle simply by siting their servers in Switzerland? If EU players will still have to have their identities verified when they play games based outside the EU, how will that work? Using some kind of bureaucratic identity-verification system within the EU that the game queries? If so, can anyone query that system, or only authorised people? How do I get the MUD2 server authorised?

Finally, if the EU does manage to impose some kind of foolproof ID system on hapless users, the next dictator who comes along will be very thankful.

I'm sure that the EU committee did consult experts. I'm not sure that the experts were experts in all the right areas. I'm also not sure that they were listened to with appropriate weighting.

That's decision-making by committee for you.

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