Despite Microsoft reassurance that the new Kinect system won’t eavesdrop on consumers, more reports are labeling the mandatory Xbox One accessory as an unlawful monitoring device.
Peter Schaar, Germany’s federal data protection commissioner, recently expressed his concerns about the Xbox One’s “always-on” Kinect and its improved monitoring and listening functions. “Under the heading, ‘game device,’ Microsoft pushes a monitoring device in the market,” Schaar told Spiegel via Game Politics.
The Xbox continuously records all sorts of personal information about me: reaction rates, my learning or emotional states. These are then processed on an external server, and possibly even passed on to third parties. Whether they will ever deleted, the person can not influence.
Civil Liberties Australia director Tim Vines also had some choice words about Microsoft’s new gaming system, when pressed by GamesFix.
Microsoft’s new Xbox meets the definition of a surveillance device under some Australian laws, so they need to be upfront and tell customers whether anyone else can intercept their information or remotely access their device.
Perhaps the most concerning news regarding the Xbox One’s Kinect system is a recent trademark filled by Microsoft, as explained by Gameranx would track the amount of viewers for certain programs via its sensors and possibly charge if the maximum limit exceeds.
These anti-privacy remarks towards the Xbox One are coming at a bad time for Microsoft, who are dealing with accusations of their Skype service potentially being used to wiretap on people at the government’s request. In an effort to clarify their privacy stance, Microsoft told Stephen Totilio that the Xbox One’s Kinect can be turned off and will not spy on players.
We know our customers want and expect strong privacy protections to be built into our products, devices and services, and for companies to be responsible stewards of their data. Microsoft has more than ten years of experience making privacy a top priority. Kinect for Xbox 360 was designed and built with strong privacy protections in place and the new Kinect will continue this commitment. We’ll share more details later.
Vanessa Barnett, a technological and media lawyer from the Charles Russell law firm, told Video Gamer that the Kinect’s “Big Brother” functions are actually similar to today’s tech, but suggests Microsoft should be clear with users on the data they collect with it for legal reasons.