The story of Brisc's downfall made headlines in the mainstream press, partly because Brisc was known to be a real-life lobbyist, an influence-doubler who worked in the political Jita of Washington, D.C. The story also got more attention because breaching an NDA is a real-life offense rather than a purely spaceship-related one.
For the next few weeks, Brisc and his fellow ban recipients maintained their innocence. EVE citizens eagerly awaited a public statement from the anonymous CSM member(s) who had accused Brisc. Instead, the CSM members kept an embarrassed silence. Finally, this week, CCP announced that Brisc was innocent after all and the bans were overturned. Oops!
Am I surprised by the news? Not really. As I wrote in a magical article for TheMittani.com back in 2014, CCP has a history of handing out dubious bans. I experienced this for myself several months into my own EVE career, when I was permabanned from the game for no apparent reason. (Luckily for EVE, my permaban was overturned about a week later.)
In the years since I wrote my article, CCP's track record on bans hasn't improved, and numerous other players--some of them high-profile--have received dodgy bans. Brisc is only the most spectacular example of this phenomenon.
Some people still harbor doubts about Brisc's exoneration, though. Space lawyers have pointed out that perhaps CCP simply didn't want to deal with a legal battle. According to this line of thinking, maybe Brisc did breach his NDA, but CCP didn't have evidence that would stand up in a court of law. Or maybe CCP didn't feel it would be worth it to spend a bunch of money on lawyers when they could make this all go away by reversing the bans.
I find that doubtful. CCP's announcement exonerating Brisc does not appear to be designed to prevent a lawsuit. Quite the opposite, in fact. If Brisc wanted to sue CCP, he'd be looking for evidence that CCP's original accusation against him had been false and that CCP was reckless in making it. In their exoneration announcement, it looks like CCP was willing to confess both of these things. There are plenty of ways CCP could've announced the reversal of the bans without making these admissions. Here are a few examples:
- "Brisc and the other two banned players are now unbanned. No further comment."
- "We have reviewed the matter and, after careful consideration, we have decided to overturn the bans."
- "We have taken another look at the evidence and involved, and it doesn't meet our high standards of proof. But we're not admitting he was actually innocent."
- "Upon further review, Brisc was innocent, but due to a series of extremely unfortunate and wildly improbable coincidences, he looked guilty. Not our fault."
- "We thought Brisc was guilty because certain CSM members engaged in metagaming by expertly framing Brisc. Blame them, not us."
Neither Brisc Rubal nor the other players implicated in this incident breached CCP’s confidentiality, the terms of the Non-Disclosure Agreement, or used privileged information to obtain an in-game advantage.In other words, CCP didn't merely lack proof of Brisc's guilt; he was innocent.
We made a mistake here and we offer our formal apologies. First, to Brisc Rubal and the two other players involved, both for making the allegations and for the disturbance and stress caused by the way in which we handled this situation.Translation: "Our own conduct caused harm."
Second, for not collaborating with due care with the members of CSM 13, who have acted responsibly throughout.Here, CCP lets the CSM members who accused Brisc off the hook. CCP may even be suggesting that they misunderstood whatever the CSM members told them. Also, by saying the CSM members acted responsibly, CCP implies that CCP acted irresponsibly by contrast.
...it's now clear that our initial actions were based on unsubstantiated assumptions.CCP admits they had no basis for making its false accusation against Brisc.
...had we taken the time to review the information with greater scrutiny, this incident could have been resolved without the disruption that has since occurred.And finally, CCP admits that the entire incident was totally avoidable, had they acted responsibly.
It doesn't look like the announcement was made just to avoid a lawsuit. If a lawyer took part in drafting this statement, it must've been Brisc Rubal's lawyer.
So where does this leave us? Is Brisc totally innocent, then? When it comes to the charge of breaching the NDA and helping alliance members profit from inside information, yes, he's exonerated.
However, Brisc Rubal is guilty of lobbying to nerf wardecs. There is also evidence that Brisc autopiloted in a pod through highsec.
On behalf of the highsec community, I urge Brisc to use his second chance at EVE life to buy a permit and cease from all further violations of the Code.