Why YOU should care about the Terms of Service changes
The reason why Eve Online's metagame became so prevalent is largely due to the lack of rules surrounding the game. The mechanics of the sandbox naturally punished the uninformed and lazy: if you didn't do a lot of research on the new recruit who just applied to your corporation, you might find yourself staring down the barrel of his autocannon within the hour. You also might find yourself a victim of a scam, or being destroyed beside your comrades due to spies relaying your fleet composition to the enemy you were fighting. It became very clear that, outside of turning your ISK into USD, almost everything you could imagine was allowed.
As most of the people reading this article are very aware, CCP recently changed their Terms of Service so that in addition to being banned for representing or impersonating a member of CCP or ISD, you can also be banned for impersonating or falsely representing another player, group of players, character, or NPC entity. GM Karidor, the GM who posted the clarification, went on to say that even if two characters are on the same account, one character cannot claim to represent the other, as each character is his or her own individual entity.
So, to the average player, what does this mean? Why does this matter? This just means that the infamous GoonWaffe recruitment scam is illegal now, right?
Unfortunately, this change in the Terms of Service affects much more than just the Goons. Essentially, if I log onto my Faction Warfare alt - Cassandra, an old character I have with minimal SP designed specifically for farming LP - and join my own corporation's public chat channel and claim to be Nalestom - my main character on that account, who is actually a member of the corporation - I can be banned by CCP if one of my corpmates decides to file a petition. Let's say I log onto Ageudum - a character of mine on an account completely separate from Nalestom, who happens to be in the same corporation as Nalestom - and claim to be Nalestom. CCP can ban me for breaking the Terms of Service.
Now, let's look at the facts. Technically speaking, CCP can ban any of my accounts for any reason at all. CCP does not need a reason to ban accounts. This is stated in the Terms of Service as well, and it honestly makes sense; CCP made the game, and they get to decide who pays them money to play and who doesn't. If they decide to ban members of the Westboro Baptist Church from Eve simply because they disagree with Westboro's various religious viewpoints, they are allowed to do so. However, the social and economic ramifications of committing such an action are so high, no company would realistically do that if they intended to stay in business.
GM Karidor directly stated that the CCP staff and game masters would not be actively enforcing this policy. This change to the Terms of Service will only be effectively enforced if Player A creates a petition with the claim that Player B violates this particular section. GM Karidor also stated that "acting with a character on behalf of another entity (NPC or player run) that the character is not a member of can, and will, be interpreted as impersonation within our policies in cases of conflict, even if the player eventually has a member alt. Again, this comes down to the fact that there are no in game possibilities of verification."
Given the general attitude of the Eve community, it's fairly safe to say that everybody loves tears. When you suicide gank a highsec miner, it's primarily because you want to see his tears. When you wardec his mining corporation, it's primarily because you want to see his tears. When you station camp him and his corpmates for a solid week, it's primarily because you want to see his tears. With this change in the Terms of Service, now you can see his tears when he gets two of his accounts banned because he claimed to be the corp CEO on his alt account, which wasn't the CEO.
Is the above example a bit extreme? Yes. Are all Eve players as cruel as the above scenario's suicide ganker? That's a possibility. Would all Eve players abuse the change in the Terms of Service to see their rivals banned, instead of podded?
I don't want to find out.