Reddit witchhunt of the week: Hands off my DNS cache

It was a cold and dark November night in 2004, during my final year of university. I burst through the door, barely able to contain myself as I threw my grinning, gibbering mass into the chair next to my computer desk and brushed aside the half completed assignment that was due in a few hours time.

I hit the power switch, didn’t even wait for the POST screen, took the disc out of the box and carefully placed it into the drive. Finally it was here, and in a short while the install would be done and I’d be playing it.

Fucking Half Life 2, here, in my hands, ready to play. Or so I thought.

“The fuck is this shit??” I remember thinking the first time I learned of Steam. “I have to fucking WHAT??” I yelled when I realised I’d have to hulk my entire rig down to the computer labs to hook up to their T1 line just so I could activate and play the game I’d waited so long for already. I was pissed off. How dare a company demand that I be online for the first time to register and activate a game I’d just paid good money for. “Fuck Steam!” I thought, this will never catch on. But it did, and I’m so glad I was wrong.


Valve’s digital distribution framework was still in it’s infancy back then, and I remember there being very little for offer on the store at the time (Codename: Gordon anyone?). In the decade since Steam has grown in to a worldwide gaming network and digital games library that is second to none. I don’t know what I’d do if I ever lost my Steam account, so I get defensive when I see shit like this:

Another classic reddit knee jerk reaction, which seems to be the raison d’être for some redditors. Long story short, someone claimed that Valve were now snooping on your DNS cache and storing information about what domains you may have visited so they could potentially decide to take action against you in case you were known to frequent certain sites that deal with cheats, hacks, exploits and the like for online multiplayer games. Similar to the outrage that happened years ago when Blizzard introduced it’s Warden security system into World of Warcraft. Of course this rather sensationalised title was not entirely accurate. Gabe himself has cleared the issue up here:

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.

By definition, anti cheat systems such as VAC are incredibly complex and obfuscate a lot of what they have to do in order to weed out cheating mechanisms and exploits. If you look close enough you are bound to find something that looks sneaky, because it is sneaky. It HAS to be sneaky to do it’s job. That does not mean it is spying on you. You cannot complain about hacks and exploits going unfixed, then cry about the way Valve tries to solve these issues using incredibly complex and sophisticated software. Not every tech company is some evil NSA sub-contractor out to get you or find out how many times you watched that midget fetish video on Pornhub.

I’m not saying put your head in the sand, but at least clear the sand out from between your ears before you make such wild accusations. Valve have demonstrated time and again that they are a progressive market leader that actually listens to it’s customers on a daily basis. Don’t look for evil where there is no evil to be found.

Or I could be wrong and this is all part of Gabe’s master plan to discredit us with our porn viewing habits…

gabenOhhh yeah, that’s right, I see what you’re doing there…mmmm keep doing that…

I write nonsense so you don't have to. Although you can if you want...

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