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No, Once Human isn’t taking your passport and ID data, NetEase says

The Once Human Steam launch is marked by criticisms about user privacy, but NetEase says the survival game does not take sensitive data.

Once Human Steam privacy policy: A young woman from new Steam survival game Once Human

Once Human does not collect especially sensitive user data including information from government-issued IDs, publisher NetEase says, following criticisms and concerns from players in the wake of the survival game’s launch on Steam. The NetEase privacy policy, which applies also to Once Human, states that information from identification documents such as passports is collected by the game. In response, the Once Human Steam rating quickly dropped to ‘mostly negative’ owing to a large number of player responses citing apprehension about how the game handles personal data. NetEase now shares a statement clarifying its privacy policy and explaining that information from government-issued IDs is only requested in certain circumstances.

The NetEase privacy policy that applies to Once Human includes a section titled “Personal Information We Collect.” Within this section, the game-maker provides a list of “personal information received from you [users of NetEase products and services].” This list identifies “government-issued ID, such as passport information, as required by applicable laws for age verification and correction of personal information,” as some of the information that NetEase collects from users. The privacy policy and this disclaimer also appear when opening the survival game.

Once Human Steam privacy: The privacy policy for Steam survival game Once Human

Following concerns from players, NetEase and Once Human developer Starry Studio have published a statement further explaining the policy regarding information from government-issued documents, as well as users’ social media accounts and other personal details.

“NetEase takes our users’ data privacy very seriously and adheres to the data privacy principles such as data minimization, purpose limitation, and transparency,” the company says. “For example, we would only collect government-issued IDs for the following reasons: where the local laws require us to do so (such as for a specific promotion), when the identity of a user’s parent must be verified to obtain consent for their child (if required by applicable child protection laws), or when the user wishes to correct their age information (again, if such verification is required by law). In any case, the ID information is deleted immediately after we have fulfilled the purpose for collecting the ID information in the first place.

“Similarly, we may ask our users for additional information such as social media account usernames, names, and addresses in user surveys that users voluntarily participate in. Users are free to provide as much or as little information in these user surveys [as they wish], if they choose to respond to the survey at all.”

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The privacy policies of other developers and publishers also, in some instances, account for the collection of data from government-issued documents. The privacy policy for Diablo 4, Overwatch 2, and World of Warcraft creator Blizzard, for example, says that “in some very rare, specific, and restricted cases, we [Blizzard] may ask you to provide a copy partially obfuscated of a document or government-issued ID to verify your identity, location, and/or account ownership to comply with our legal obligations.”

Similarly, the privacy policy for ZeniMax Media, parent company to Skyrim and Starfield creator Bethesda, outlines that “in limited circumstances, we [ZeniMax Media] may collect: social security number, driver’s license, precise geolocation, and personal information collected and analyzed concerning a consumer’s health.”

As of this writing, less than 24 hours since it was released, Once Human’s overall Steam rating, based on player reviews, has risen to ‘mixed.’ At its peak, the sandbox game has so far attracted more 82,000 concurrent users on Valve’s platform.

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