When Signing Up For Betas, Make Sure You Don't Share A Name With A Terrorist

A man attempting to sign up to the beta for Paragon, Epic Games' incoming Smite-ish MOBA, was denied access due to his name being the same as a financier of a Pakistani militant group.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control in the US regularly circulates a list of people that US citizens are not permitted to do business with. Epic Games' method of compliance was to code a filter that checked only a person's name, despite other information being available from the OFAC. Needless to say, there are probably a few people out there named Muhammad Khan, and it wouldn't take a genius to foresee other false matches in the future.

As The Intercept reports, when Khan attempted to sign up for the Paragon beta, he was met with the following message:

Your account creation has been blocked as a result of a match against the Specially Designated Nationals list maintained by the United States of America's Office of Foreign Assets Control. If you have questions, please contact customer service as [email protected]

It just so happens that this particular Muhammad Khan is the executive director of the Transparency and Accountability Project - tracking police accountability - and is a speech professor at Broward College in Florida. Not the ideal Khan to piss off.

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney, to his credit, was onto the situation quickly, apologised, explained, and promised to fix the core issue.

According to Sweeney, the filter was intended for "large international commercial projects, rather than games", which might refer to the business relationships Epic enters into when licensing out the latest Unreal engine. But no matter how it's used, a lazy filter is a lazy filter — the only difference is when it's applied to a beta signup process, a lot more people are involved, making it much more public.

Sweeney has promised to rectify the filter checking name only, and suggested Epic might opt to check names and addresses from purchase info against the OFAC list at point of sale, which should at least allow them to differentiate between the Muhammad Khan funding Pakistani militants and the well-to-do, Florida-based professor.

[The Intercept]


    At least they owned up completely and fully explained their mistake.

      Surprised terrorists are not changing their names to bark Obama just for the security clearance.

    Seems all normal to me. Beta coding has beta problems, which is when you want to see them. Guy has an issue for no fault of his own, company gets on top of it and solves it. Personally, more credit to Epic Games for being so upfront on how it happened.

      The problem was with the Epic account sign up process though, not the beta sign up process so it shouldn't be attributed to "This was just ironing out beta issues".

        Might still be specific to Paragon, but fair point. If so, the process was still new, so still the same thing - new process, new problems. The signup process had changed in retaliation to the OFAC requirements, which I presume have only recently become obligatory.

        I just assumed it was an issue specific to Paragon, but theres nothing to say one way or another.

    The title is a little misleading, the sign up process was for making an Epic Games account, not a beta account.

      il probs get a message from an admin for this but dude, some kotaku stuff is just super fucking click-baity

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