Privacy is an issue that many gamers have become more concerned with over the past couple of years with devices in the home that seem to be able to always watch what they are doing. Lately, those privacy concerns have centered around Valve and it’s Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) system.
A Reddit thread that began on Sunday suggested that Valve was monitoring, and keeping a record of, all of the websites you visit to send back to Valve HQ. That thread prompted Valve boss Gabe Newell himself to post his own Reddit thread defending what his company is doing. And it doesn’t involve spying on its users.
“Cheat versus trust is an ongoing cat-and-mouse game,” Newell stated. “New cheats are created all the time, detected, banned, and tweaked. This specific VAC test for this specific round of cheats was effective for 13 days, which is fairly typical. It is now no longer active as the cheat providers have worked around it by manipulating the DNS cache of their customers’ client machines.”
He continued on by saying that some cheaters’ primary goal is to do nothing more than damage consumers’ trust with a company.
“There is also a social engineering side to cheating, which is to attack people’s trust in the system. If “Valve is evil – look they are tracking all of the websites you visit” is an idea that gets traction, then that is to the benefit of cheaters and cheat creators. VAC is inherently a scary looking piece of software, because it is trying to be obscure, it is going after code that is trying to attack it, and it is sneaky. For most cheat developers, social engineering might be a cheaper way to attack the system than continuing the code arms race, which means that there will be more Reddit posts trying to cast VAC in a sinister light.”
In response to the “spying” assertion, Newell had some pretty simple responses.
1) Do we send your browsing history to Valve? No.
2) Do we care what porn sites you visit? Oh, dear god, no. My brain just melted.
3) Is Valve using its market success to go evil? I don’t think so, but you have to make the call if we are trustworthy. We try really hard to earn and keep your trust.