The ESEA have spent the last decade hosting eSports tournaments and selling their server client – an anti-cheating measure used in games of Counter-Strike, StarCraft 2 and Team Fortress 2. But the state of New Jersey fined the company this week for launching an ill-advised, clandestine side business in commandeering their users’ graphics cards to farm bitcoins.
The ESEA, however, have been in contact to tell us that the press release issued by the state yesterday represented a “deep misunderstanding” of what went on in April.
In the wake of the ‘Bitcoin incident’, as the ESEA now refer to it, the attorney general of New Jersey opened an investigation into the company that led to a civil action suit and ended in a $1m settlement this week. While ESEA head Eric ‘lpkane’ Thunberg “cooperated fully” with the investigation, he was emphatic yesterday in his disagreement with the ruling.
“We want to make it clear to our community that we do not agree with the Attorney General’s account of the Bitcoin incident,” he wrote in a statement sent to PCGN.
“The settlement that was signed makes explicitly clear that we do not agree, nor do we admit, to any of the State of New Jersey’s allegations,” Thunberg went on. “The press release issued by the Attorney General about our settlement represents a deep misunderstanding of the facts of the case, the nature of our business, and the technology in question.”
In April, the ESEA introduced code to their anti-cheat software that used player GPUs to generate bitcoins. The New Jersey state reckon that 14,000 machines were affected, and that $3,500 worth of the digital currency was created during the two weeks the code was active.
Thunberg initially suggested that the code, discovered by users, was the result of an April Fools prank gone wrong – but soon afterwards condemned the “way more shady” actions of one fired employee.
The ESEA’s current stated plan is to instill what remains of their community with new confidence in their commitment to user privacy. During the investigation, it came to light that the company’s lead coder, Hunczak, had written monitoring code that tracked mouse movement and booted up mining code when it appeared that the user was away from their PC. The state of New Jersey also believe that staff at the company “used the ESEA Software to copy files from ESEA end-users’ computers”.
The ESEA have also pledged to submit to regular audits, conducted by a third party, to ensure that they’re keeping to their word in maintaining a “secure environment” for users. It’s worth noting that the company will escape $675,000 of their $1m fine if they go 10 years without violating the rules of the New Jersey state’s settlement.