The whole "being at war - being in the same alliance" should be changed. If you assist someone fighting against someone else, and the enemy is allowed to shoot you, you dont get a suspect flag. If you assist someone who is not allowed to legally shoot you, you get a suspect flag. It should be not importand, why the enemy is allowed to shoot you, be it you are in a war, a suspect, a limited engagement or whatever. The being-in-same-alliance fix would not work for allies in a war, too, in addition to the FW thing shown in the article.
Crimewatch 2.0 was released as part of Retribution. The intended purpose was to create a streamlined set of rules and consequences for people in high- and low-sec. For the most part, this process is successful, however the varying degrees of inter player interaction within EVE Online is likely far too complex to allow for a comprehensive, and yet simple, rule set like CCP hoped. CCP is continuing to attempt to close loopholes, but by doing so they continue to add complexity, and possibly further problems. One such example of this has emerged this week.
The Original Problem
As it stood there was an interesting quirk within the Crimewatch 2.0 system. By definition a person providing remote repair support gains the flags, and the current timers associated with them, of the target being assisted. This looks good on paper, but breaks down when the member is shooting a war target. The person has rights to shoot the war target, so no suspect or criminal flag is applied to the aggressor, and the target has every right to shoot back, so no limited engagement either. Now a neutral assistant can help his ally while receiving only a harmless PVP flag and a largely irrelevant weapons flag. The assistant remains untouchable to the opponent without incurring a criminal or suspect flag of his own. People complained on the forums and CCP decided it was an exploit and so wanted to fix it.
The Cure is Worse Than the Disease
The solution that CCP has come up with is to have “Assisting a non-corpmate who has a PVP flag and is in active a war” provide a suspect flag to the assisting member. As we all know from our schoolbooks, suspect flag now allows anyone in New Eden to shoot at you with impunity. The glaring issue with this solution is the word “non-corpmate” and it has been confirmed to not include members of your alliance. So as of this writing (CCP has stated a fix to include alliances is in the works) if you are in an Alliance, at war in highsec, repping your fellow alliance member against a common wartarget, you will gain a suspect flag. Of course if anyone decides to take advantage of that suspect flag, they will gain a limited engagement, and your combat fleet will be able to do nothing without receiving CONCORD intervention.
To compound the problem, it was not published in the patch notes as normal. In the thread about the discovery, Masterplan writes, “The change was not in the patchnotes because it was related to an exploit which I'm not going to get into a discussion about on here (and isn't quite as the OP states),” however he does not explain how it IS supposed to work if it isn’t how it was described by the other posters. He also says that the fix will come to make it inter-alliance and not just inter-corp. However other scenarios have arisen where this problem will still become an issue.
A Possible Scenario
So let’s assume that they make the rule “Assisting a non-alliance mate who has a PVP flag and is in active a war provides the assisting pilot a suspect flag (15 minute).” We have a further breakdown that may occur in FW that is not covered by these rules. Although Masterplan expresses that our FW wars are not considered “real wars” for this calculation, many have their non-FW wardecs, and the rules don’t seem to distinguish if you are shooting at your active war targets.
So the Caldari decide to cause some havoc within Gallente fleets. They know that Gallente like to fly in large groups composed of several corps + general militia. So they wardec a large corp like Justified Chaos with a one man corp filled with an alt that no one cares about. The Caldari then engage the Gallente on a gate, shots are fired and reps are put on friendlies. But wait! Justified Chaos is not the corp flying logi today! So instantly all of the logi go suspect as they rep the primary (chosen to be a JC member of course).
Instantly, a small gang of neutrals land on grid (likely a set of Caldari that have dropped militia), and start attacking the now suspect logi. The logi have aggression flags from repping, the fight is still on so they can’t readily stop, and the combat fleet can not attack without incurring a sec status hit. That sec status hit will also call the gate guns into the action against the Gallente. Meanwhile not all members are prepared to receive a sec hit, many only fight war targets and -5 pirates, and so the fleet descends into confusion, and the Caldari win by exploiting an unusually confusing aspect of our new mechanics.
This issue will also impact anyone who is teamed up with other corps/alliances within the same war. If you bring in mercs to help you against a high-sec wardec, cross reps will incur suspect flags thus making the logistic support giant targets. Hopefully a remedy is in the works, however this simply points to how much consideration must be made with every change to the way players are and are not allowed to interact in our sandbox.