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Epic mistakenly blocks man with name on US watchlist

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Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has apologised to Muhammad Zakir Khan over Twitter after Khan was prevented from making an Epic account due to a hit against a US Treasury list of Specially Designated Nationals. The SDN list is a register of people and companies that US 'persons' (an exhausting legal umbrella term) are prohibited from dealing with, potentially due to involvement in terrorist financing, trafficking or money laundering, but also as part of US sanctions campaigns against specific countries. Or, in this case, people who want to play the Paragon beta (opens in new tab).

"When I went to the website to register for an account, I hit submit and that's when I faced the red text. I was shocked," Khan told Gamasutra (opens in new tab). "Initially, I thought I had been hacked. I literally stopped everything and told myself verbally out loud, 'What the heck?' I felt dehumanized and discriminated against. Frankly, it hurt."

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What's surprising about this incident isn't the existence of the list—it's publicly available (opens in new tab) and circulated by the Treasury Department to companies trading internationally—but the extent to which it's wired into basic account creation and its reliance on name alone. According to Sweeney, that's an error caused by recycled code from the Unreal Engine licensing process (opens in new tab).

"This is bad filtering code. It checks a Federal export restriction list based solely on name!" Sweeney Tweeted. "We're working to figure this out. Ideally, not at signup, but by matching name and billing address at purchase time."