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Fears Xbox One has spying eye

Tim Biggs (via SMH) | June 5, 2013
Microsoft's newly announced game and entertainment console has the potential to collect data relating to your entertainment use, personal movements, speech and activities before sending it to the tech giant's servers.

There has been no official word from Microsoft on whether any of these features would be used to collect or transmit data for any purpose other than operating the device, but a spokesperson for the company indicated the system would not present the Orwellian surveillance reality many are imagining.

"Microsoft has more than 10 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," the spokesperson said.

Privacy features of the original Kinect included a light that illuminated when the camera was active and the ability to disable the camera entirely.

The Xbox One version of Kinect will be capable of functioning even when the system is in standby mode, with Microsoft demonstrating the ability to turn the console on with only a voice command. The company has since stressed that the system and Kinect will be able to be completely powered down if needed.

Mr Vines said Microsoft needs to be clear on how the machine collects and cross-references data when it is active before the Xbox One release later this year.

"What information's being collected? Who can access it and when? Can I access my own information or ask you to delete it? Is it ever deleted? These are all standard questions that I think Microsoft should answer before it tries to put it in fine print or some terms and conditions statement that no one's going to read. That's not really enough when we're talking about putting a really sensitive video camera and microphone in someone's living room".

Late last year Microsoft filed a patent that would allow Kinect to monitor and report the number of people in your lounge room. The more people present, the more you'd be charged to rent movies and television shows, and if people arrived to your party after you'd already paid, 'remedial action' could be taken, meaning the movie could be stopped and you would be charged more.

Just weeks ago another patent was filed that would reward users in some way for sitting put on the couch while advertisements were being displayed, or for performing certain actions during 'linear video recordings'.

It's not clear if either of these functions is being considered for use in the Xbox One.

 

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