The Game Center’s Terms and Conditions agreement is roughly 12 pages long. And, statistically, less than one percent of you read through all 3,289 words. But maybe you should. Apple’s boiler plate license contains a lot of humdrum legalese but they’ve also tucked away a few surprising tidbits that could get you exiled from Game Center or in serious legal trouble if you skimmed over them too fast.
Apple Can and Will Give Your Information to Almost Anyone Who Asks for It
As police officials, credit investigators and potential employers rely more heavily on your digital history to make decisions concerning your future, social networking sites are faced with a decision: hand over your information or protect your user privacy.
And Apple has gone with the former:
Apple has the right, without liability to you, to disclose any Registration Data and/or Account information to law enforcement authorities, government officials, and/or a third party, as Apple believes is reasonably necessary or appropriate to enforce and/or verify compliance with any part of this Agreement (including but not limited to Apple’s right to cooperate with any legal process relating to your use of the Service and/or products, and/or a third-party claim that your use of the Service and/or products is unlawful and/or infringes such third party’s rights).
If you found that a little too long to read, it’s easy to sum up: Apple will give your information away, virtually no questions asked. The person they give that information to could be a “law enforcement authority”, “government official” or a “third party”: a wide net that encompasses virtually anyone’s claims. And if they hand over that information in error, to your detriment, you have no right to sue.
No Playing with Children
Mercilessly beating and then taunting underage children is a time-honored practice, steeped in gaming tradition. But try that at the Game Center and you could be under serious trouble. Not only can’t you taunt any children you find yourself playing against, but you can’t ask them any personal questions at all.
According to the Game Center, any conversation that leads to the (intentional or accidental) release of any of that kid’s personal information — which includes “but is not limited to” their names, any of their friends’ names, or even their profile picture — can lead to prosecution.
So next time, ask for some ID before you send PrincessKK97 a Draw Something message. If she’s under 18 and responds to “that handle is super dumb and you can’t draw” with “my name really is Princess” then you could be in some serious legal trouble.
You Can Get the Boot for Sharing a Celebrity’s Name
George Michael Bluth may have some trouble getting his Angry Birds account set up. Because at the Game Center,
“Apple reserves the right to reject or block any nickname which could be deemed to be an impersonation or misrepresentation of your identity, or a misappropriation of another person’s name or identity”
You’re also not allowed to pretend you’re “anyone, or any entity, you are not” which essentially means that giving a false name is grounds for account cancellation — because Game Center demands to know who you are at all times so that they can spam your Game Center friends with game recommendations that come from Your (Real) Name Here.
You Can’t Sue Apple for Any Reason
We can’t immediately think of any grounds for suing Apple’s Game Center. But knowing you couldn’t even if you wanted to will save you the effort of writing that harshly-worded letters of complaint. This is the kind of stuff Apple puts in bold:
BY USING THE SERVICE, YOU AGREE TO INDEMNIFY AND HOLD APPLE, ITS DIRECTORS, OFFICERS, EMPLOYEES, AFFILIATES, AGENTS, CONTRACTORS, AND LICENSORS HARMLESS WITH RESPECT TO ANY CLAIMS ARISING OUT OF YOUR BREACH OF THIS AGREEMENT, YOUR USE OF THE SERVICE, OR ANY ACTION TAKEN BY APPLE AS PART OF ITS INVESTIGATION OF A SUSPECTED VIOLATION OF THIS AGREEMENT OR AS A RESULT OF ITS FINDING OR DECISION THAT A VIOLATION OF THIS AGREEMENT HAS OCCURRED.
And now that we’ve had time to think about it, we imagine that most users will want to sue Apple after they feel violated by a service like Carrier IQ or when they’ve been scammed by one of their not-at-all-monitored Third Party apps. Apple may brag about the security of its app store. But once you’re in an app you’re on your own.
Apps may scam you out of your money or sell your information and Apple won’t lift a finger to help. You agreed to play at your own risk once you signed into Game Center.
Once You Sign Into Game Center, You Are Legally in California
And it couldn’t hurt to do a little reading up on all of the “local, state, federal and national laws, statutes, ordinances and regulations that apply to your use of the Service”. And most of it is good news. California has some of the best and best-enforced privacy laws in the United States.
But if you want to sue — even though you’ve already waived your right to sue, so really you’d be suing for the right to sue — you’ll have to do it through the courts of the State of California. So now you have to buy a lawyer and a ticket.
If you’re planning to buy an iPhone, it’s good to get to know the rules of Apple’s Game Center. And if you don’t agree with them, you can always opt out and cut yourself off from the hopelessly addicting score updates, game recommendations and stats that you’ve come to rely on.
Or, just read carefully, keep your nose clean and remember that pretending to be Stephen Hawking to intimidate the opposition in Words with Friends is illegal and grounds for termination.