Cary-based video game and technology developer Epic Games says it is making changes in its registration process after a Muslim name – Muhammad Khan – was rejected from signing up for a beta test of a forthcoming game.

Epic owner, co-founder and CEO issued an apology late Monday night via Twitter.

In a statement to WRAL TechWire, Epic spokesman Nick Chester added: “As Tim mentions, this was unintended, and we’ve implemented a fix.”

Muhammad Zakir Khan, an assistant professor of speech communication at Broward College in Florida, tweeted to Epic:

“So now gaming companies can deny service to someone, just because his name is Muhammad Khan?”

He did so after his registration was rejected, the Epic system saying:

“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. If you have questions, please contact customer service at”

The incident triggered hundreds of tweets about the issue.

Sweeney responded very quickly to Khan’s tweet.

“Sorry, this isn’t intended. We’re working to fix ASAP. Cause: Overly broad filter related to US trade restrictions,” Sweeney tweeted.

Khan responded:

“Will your fix still involve indiscriminately flagging names? I’m curious to see how it’s going to work.”

Responded Sweeney:

“No. We will fix the blocking based solely on name.”

Sweeney also was asked how Epic would change its registration process going forward.

“We’re working to figure this out. Ideally, not at signup, but by matching name and billing address at purchase time.”

Khan told Sweeney that he hadn’t “had this problem with any other company (Blizzard, Steam, Origin) except yours.”

“Understood and sorry,” Sweeney responded.

“This is bad filtering code. It checks a Federal export restriction list based solely on name!”

Later, Sweeney added:

“The code was originally written for paid commercial access to UE4. We reused it for free Paragon signups without foreseeing this.”

Khan tells website he was ‘surprised” by what happened

According to his LinkedIn profile, Khan is :

“Currently teaching Introduction to Public Speaking and Introduction to Speech Communications courses. Manage recruiting, coaching, and logistics for Central Campus forensics students. Serves as a member of the College Equity Committee. Served as a member of the Campus Sustainability Committee and Associate Dean Search Committee. Also served as the lead coordinator between the Speech Department and the campus bookstore. Currently focusing upon a teaching model that emphasizes active learning and the development of practical public speaking skills for self and community advocacy.”

Khan told gaming website BoingBoing that he was “surprised,” especially given Epic’s home office location.

“I was surprised when it happened. I was surprised that they were so irresponsible in the way they administered their compliance with the list. I’ve never been blocked from other competitors platforms like Blizzard, Steam, and Origin,” he said.

“For a company located in the Research Triangle where there are so many Muslims living, one would expect at least one programmer would stop and think about how they were administering their system.”

Epic is an international gaming powerhouse both in developing of titles, such as the forthcoming Paragon and past hits including “Gears of War” and “Unreal Tournament.” Its game development engines are used across multiple platforms and is seen as a leader in the emerging field of virtual reality with its newest engine, Unreal 4.

Sweeney cites federal guidelines

“The filter was intended for UE4 (used in large international commercial projects), rather than games,” Sweeney explained further then pointed Khan to a federal information site as well as a Wikipedia cite for a “Special Designated Nationals list.”

“I’m not a lawyer, but the US trade restrictions are these:”

More about the issue can be read at:

Man with Muslim name blocked from playing video game