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American Professor Barred from Online Game Because his Name Popped up in US Blacklist

Update Date: Jan 15, 2016 07:11 PM EST
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Epic Games apologized to an American professor who was restricted from playing the online game, Paragon, because he shared his name with someone who was on a US government blacklist. Muhammad Zakir Khan, an assistant professor at Broward College in Florida tried to sign up for the beta version of Paragon, first person shooter multiplayer game inspired by DOTA 2. However, instead of account creation, Khan was met with an unusual error 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," read the form. "If you have questions, please contact customer service at accounts@epicgames.com," reported The Guardian

Khan, visibly upset by it, tweeted "@EpicGames My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist. #Islamophobia". Most would not even know about the "specially designated Nationals List" which is published by US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). According to the website of US Department of Treasury, the blacklist is created to monitor the criminals that are working in US. However, the question is, why is a crucial list as this tied to something so simple as a sign up for a beta of a video game?, says Ars Technica

Founder of Epic Games, Tim Sweeney replied to Khan's tweet and explained that the company had barred him from signing up because his name was on the list circulated by US treasury. However, this filter was wrongly applied on consumer products but in Unreal Engine 4, that the company gives out the game developers for creation of new games. "Sorry, this isn't intended. We're working to fix ASAP. Cause: Overly broad filter related to US trade restrictions. "Understood and sorry. This is bad filtering code. It checks a Federal export restriction list based solely on name!" reports Ars Technica

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