Microsoft attempts to calm Xbox One privacy worries

Microsoft confirms that the machine can be switched completely off, and adds that the company takes privacy of its users seriously.

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Microsoft has attempted to calm consumers worried about the privacy implications of the always-connected nature of the Xbox One and its motion sensing camera peripheral Kinect.

The Xbox One requires the Kinect peripheral attached in order to function, alongside a connection to the Internet. Speaking to Kotaku, a Microsoft representative said that the machine "is not always watching or always listening."

Questions about the privacy of Xbox One owners have been asked following the unveiling of the device last week, with Germany's federal data protection commissioner Peter Schaar today likening the next-generation console to a "monitoring device."

The Xbox One can be completely switched off, the representative confirmed. "Yes, you can turn the system completely off," the Microsoft representative said, "This would use no power and turn everything off. We’ll share more details about how it all works later." By default the Xbox One will suspend to a low-power state and listen out for applicable voice commands from users.

In an effort to reduce fears that the motion sensor will spy on its users, Microsoft assured that it would ship the Xbox One with various customisable privacy settings for users. "We are designing the new Kinect with simple, easy methods to customize privacy settings, provide clear notifications and meaningful privacy choices for how data will be used, stored, and shared," said Microsoft.

"We know our customers want and expect strong privacy protections to be built into our products, devices, and services," continued Microsoft, "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."

Microsoft is not prepared to go into specifics on the Xbox One's privacy settings at present, however. "We’ll share more details later," concluded Microsoft.

For more information on Microsoft's next-gen console, check out GameSpot's Xbox One hub.

Discussion

4556 comments
Secret360
Secret360

Look as far as i am concerned all they want to do is give the kinect the same voice recognition as widows 7 after all its Microsoft. I for one can't wait to get my hands on the xboxone. The only real set back for me is that it has to be online all the time, i live in africa thats just unrealistic 

IanNottinghamX
IanNottinghamX

Hate to sound paranoid but people need to think about this:

1. It listens to you

2. It Monitors your heat signature

3. Even when its off its monitoring your conversation

4. It watches you as part of its sensor technology...


I dont want this shit in my house...how do we know that even when its unplugged it doesnt hold a charge for monitoring purposes? I dont see a reason for these features to exist in a video game console what-so-ever..

TreFacTor
TreFacTor

As someone who bought the kinect... I don't care how improved it is....I DON'T WAN'T ANOTHER KINECT! Plain and simple. It's being forced on people and those that aren't dumb want it to be optional just like the mandatory 24 hour big brother check in. If they don't get it by now, they never will.

dalepickstock
dalepickstock

It's all about what data is collected and what it's used for. If you think that ms is going to record video and voice and save that info then perhaps you should stay under your tin foil hats and not buy one the cost of storage alone would certainly make the xbox too expensive to run as a concept.

Chances are that it will collect how long you play a certain game for and what sex / age you are etc so it can try and make better games / products and target you for advertising. Sound familiar? No? Well it should its what google has been doing for years!

We have got to remember this is a company that makes money out of us buying games / music / video and operating systems is it really going to be interested in what colour boxers your playing in?

Vienreich
Vienreich

It's interesting to see the way people rally up behind stupid shit, like this kinect thing being the new spying tool in the living room. Suddenly a whole mass of ill tempered dogs start barking. 

1blackone
1blackone

Comment of the day: [Paraphrased]

@Celtic_34 

You know you messed up creating a feature when, instead of people's reactions being "Oooh, that's cool. I want that.", they instead say 

"...How do I turn it off?"

northArrow
northArrow

Microsoft cares about your privacy about as much as BP cares about the gulf coast.

Celtic_34
Celtic_34

voice recognition and motion controls are so gimmicky and useless. Who the heck wants to talk to their television? do you have any idea how awkward that is?

serious. is there one person who saw this and was like omg that's so cool i have to have that? it was more like how do i turn it off? lol

when ms's first press release is you can turn it off as damage control, why even include it at all? too funny.

Jdc01
Jdc01

Microsoft kinect privacy:

A- on all the time ( recommended)

B- power saving mode

C- low power state

boudinbreath
boudinbreath

This is what I expected. Of course this machine will be shipped with customizable privacy settings. It is a requirement in this day and age. I have trusted Microsoft for ten years with my personal data, and they haven't let me down yet - unlike Sony, which has its Playstation Network hacked causing hundreds of thousands of personal profiles to be compromised.

My biggest beef with the new console is the "always connected" mentality, whereby you need to have your console connected to the internet at least once a day (reportedly). I sometimes work in areas that have not only no internet, but no cell reception. I take my Xbox in the bush with me and this will obviously hamper my gaming while away. It's just disappointing, and if it greatly affects console sales, they'll have to consider changing it.

Hopefully they make the right decision, if not for gamers, then for their bottom line.

100proofsoco
100proofsoco

Tim Vines, director at Civil Liberties Australia, told GamesFIX that Microsoft has a lot to answer for with a product that has the ability to listen and watch everything a person does.

“People should have the ability to turn off the camera or microphone, even if it limits the functionality of the machine,” he said. Vines believes privacy is “all about control”.

“Of course, if Microsoft doesn’t allow that (control), then people should vote with their wallets and skip the next Xbox.”

Vines says Microsoft should be upfront about what it does with data collected by Xbox One.

“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,” Vines said.

minkbikini
minkbikini

Sony won the day M$ decided to go Blu-ray...

Rattlesnake_8
Rattlesnake_8

So it's not always listening, but it's going to be set to listen to specific voice commands which means it is always listening. 

Glongold
Glongold

The best privacy setting is the one called "not buying this."

hedgehod
hedgehod

*Microsoft reveals that the new console is able to apprehend users that are doing something seemingly illegal in front of it*

W: What has happened to him?

H: Seems like... he has been left to his own devices.

( •_•)>⌐■-■
(⌐■_■)

YEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!

sieg6529
sieg6529

Wasn't going to buy it anyway (my soul belongs to Gabe Newell), but I love to watch them squirm prior to launch.  

KingSardine
KingSardine

I like how every time M$ announces something about the XBone, they have to come back and either clear things up or try and "calm" us. I swear they don't have a PR team or a marketing team.

SKErwin
SKErwin

" We are designing the new Kinect with simple, easy methods to customize privacy settings, provide clear notifications and meaningful privacy choices for how data will be used, stored, and shared"

That's annoying, i want to play, not to be watched by them.

VastGameMaster
VastGameMaster

MS should worry about calming us down after that disappointing Xbox One reveal.

Achilles04
Achilles04

lol Here comes all the Sony fanboys. Put on your tinfoil hats. MS is planning on having thousands of emloyees watch you through your kinect because you know, that will be SO worth their time and money. It's funny that Kinect 2.0 actually looks like an amazing piece of technology instead of the POS Kinect 1.0, and yet people freak out. I guess we know everything about the X1 though in terms of privacy since every gaming website has posted rumors and whatever other convuluted trash tey can find on it. Makes sense, especially since the communication has been wait until E3. The reveal sucked, just like the reveal for the PS4 sucked. E3 will be the time for Sony and MS to talk about their used game plans and reveal a hell of a lot more about their systems. I for one am excited. I will be buying both, enjoy your one system pony.

1blackone
1blackone

@Secret360 

M$ Shill

2 day old account

He "lives" in Africa? No one in Africa calls it "Africa", unless they are military and are stationed there. They say an individual country.


That's as weird as a New Zealander saying they live in "Oceania". Or a Russian person saying they were born in "Asia".

6orange6
6orange6

@Vienreich you call the defense of privacy and the people who rally to that concern dogs? Have you read 1984 by George Orwell?


draken2533
draken2533

@Celtic_34 last time i checked Iphone uses voice recognition and has for sometime i think most apple users would disagree with you raj especially

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

@boudinbreath

There doesn't appear to be any definitive info anywhere across the net regarding Always On, as most knowledgeable sites indicate similar info:

http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/gaming/news/a483781/xbox-ones-11-biggest-features-new-kinect-controller-used-games.html

[Not always-on, but must be internet-connected

Another persistent rumour leading up to Xbox One's reveal was the requirement for an always-on connection. This has been confirmed as false by Microsoft, allowing games, live TV and Blu-ray films to be played offline.

There is, however, a caveat; the console must be connected to the internet at least once per 24 hours in order to play single player games, presumably for authentication purposes.

How strict this will be - whether certain features are turned off or entire games would be rendered unplayable after a day offline - is again unknown.]

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

@Rattlesnake_8

Did you read the Article:

[[The Xbox One can be completely switched off, the representative confirmed. "Yes, you can turn the system completely off," the Microsoft representative said, "This would use no power and turn everything off. We’ll share more details about how it all works later." By default the Xbox One will suspend to a low-power state and listen out for applicable voice commands from users.]]

Guess not...

risseer23
risseer23

Also to be fair no one knows for sure what Sony is up too,E3 will paint a much larger picture.If i was a MS fanboy i would be quite upset about what MS is doing.

risseer23
risseer23

Kinect 2.0 looks just as lame as 1.0.You can't play real games on it.

Warful
Warful

@Achilles04 You need to understand that some of us aren't fanboys, we are however very protective of privacy. Don't tell me that you don't find the following things suspicious:

1. The Kinect HAS to be connected and can only be turned off if the console itself is turned off.
2. MS has tried to get a patent on a certain technology that uses the heat sensor in the Kinect to detect how many people are in the room, to then charge that amount for watching a specific movie or the like.
3. Their Policy Agreement regarding the Kinect states, that should you agree upon using the Xbox One, which you of course do when you buy it and want to play on it, you agree to their ability of using any data contained on your console to transfer it to their own servers and transmit it to 3rd parties.

4. The statement above, and I quote from MS themselves:
"The machine isn't ALWAYS watching". Thus it is capable of watching us and also listening, it just doesn't do so all the time. Why does it need to?

DID you actually know, that IF data concerning any person is stored on a 2nd or 3rd party server for more than 180 days, it is legal for the government to read through all of this, without any proper suspicion of your involvement in a crime or not.

razorfett147
razorfett147

@6orange6 @Vienreich Problem is, you're acting like there's something we all can do to prevent this....like it hasn't happened yet (hint hint, it already has).  Big Brother moved in years ago, it's just taking longer for some of you to catch on than others.  

You want him out of your life?  Get rid of your smart phone, your iPad, your internet service, your credit cards, and  start working for cash.  Otherwise, smile and wave to Big Bro.

boudinbreath
boudinbreath

@thenephariouson @boudinbreath Thanks for the response, and you're right in saying it's too early to comment on something which has yet to be revealed. Let's just hope it turns out for the better.

100proofsoco
100proofsoco

@thenephariouson@Enoughkids

Tim Vines, director at Civil Liberties Australia, told GamesFIX that Microsoft has a lot to answer for with a product that has the ability to listen and watch everything a person does.

“People should have the ability to turn off the camera or microphone, even if it limits the functionality of the machine,” he said. Vines believes privacy is “all about control”.

“Of course, if Microsoft doesn’t allow that (control), then people should vote with their wallets and skip the next Xbox.”

Vines says Microsoft should be upfront about what it does with data collected by Xbox One.

“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,” Vines said.

tim1935
tim1935

@thenephariouson @Rattlesnake_8 Then we should be able to just not plug it in at all if we don't want it.  Why force you to plug something in if it is indeed totally disabled.  That doesn't make sense.

Achilles04
Achilles04

@risseer23 Both companies still need to sell me and considering there is still a lot of time before the systems come out, I'll wait and see. I am hoping both impress because I will buy both just like I did with this current gen. But MS has been a PR mess.

Achilles04
Achilles04

@risseer23 @Achilles04 lol why because I'm excited about the X1? Yeah you are right. I guess that's why I have all three current gen systems and plan on buying both the PS4 and X1 (not wii U). I just think it's funny that people such as yourself feel some unbound loyalty to one company or another.  Sony and MS are corporations and don't give a damn about you, yet you fanboys have to get fired up and attack one system or the other because somehow these companies have diluded you into thinking they care about you. lol. Funny. And here's a tough reality check: IF one of these companies fail in this next gen, the gaming industry is going to go down the tube. Both systems provide outlets for gaming publishers and a greater range for revenue which in turn leads to more innovation. So keep hoping one system or the other fails, and when it does, cry all you want about how publishers suddenly stop producing as much. The gaming industry is already in trouble, what do you think happens if Sony or MS puts out a crap product? The writing is on the wall and game developers know it. If Sony fails, it's not like all those fans are going to jump to MS and vice versa, you will lose customers which hurts everyone. Competition spurs innovation and also will create MORE revenue for the entire industry.

Achilles04
Achilles04

@Warful @Achilles04 

I get it and respect that you have an intelligent concern here over the dumb comments below. So let me respond in kind. While I doubt you will agree, I do respect your position and see that you have valid points, but I also think you are overthinking it.

1- So what? We all know MS is looking for Kinect to be relevant. My kinect is already connected at all times for convenience and I don't care.

2- IF MS does try to charge you by person for each movie, let them try. Does anyone here really use the MS movie library anyways? I watch netflix, redbox movies ad so on, so this doesn't matter to me. Think about something for a second with Kinect. I'm not sure if you are aware, but this technology is already being used for medical purposes, therapy and so on. It allows a person to do physical therapy remotely. Being able to sense how many people are in the room is great in that sense. Additionally be mindful that patents are filed by companies on a regular basis just to make sure that if someone tries to use something that you have thought of, you get paid. A lot of patents go unused.

3- Your info is already passed to third parties in terms of our interet searching habits for marketing purposes. The 360 already gives movie suggestions based on what you watch. Whenever you buy something and get put on some email list, your info is sold. What exactly is surprising about this? Do you think Kinect is going to store millions of video shots of you and then sell them? No offense but that isn't logical at ll.

4- I get your worry here, but look up more recent news from MS. If the machine is off, the only thing the kinect will sense is "Xbox On" and nothing else. It's not watching or listening to anything else. If you think MS is lying about this go ahead, but keep in mind that MS has to be careful with the government because they already got nailed a few years back for being a monopoly before Apple was around, so I see no validity to thinking it's going to spy on you.

As for the storing of data, worry more about your internet searching then your xbox playing. Why do I care if my gaming info is stored or what movies I watch? I worry more about the fact that my emails and private communications are shared because I think that's inappropriate.

Warful
Warful

@Achilles04 @Warful Agreed, some of these are rumours, some come from what SEEMS to be semi-reliable sources while many of these things aren't adressed fully. MS have done a bad PR job and have failed to do proper damage control. I agree on the Sony part, they are keeping their mouths shut, thus keeping all the media focused on Microsoft and the Xbox One because they know there are all these privacy issues and pre-owned fees and so on, it is to simply keep a stable advantage over Microsoft and to make sure they don't play the wrong card themselves. 

Achilles04
Achilles04

@Warful @Achilles04 Good points. I totally agree that the Kinect should be optional. I don't think it was a good move on the part of MS. I guess for me it's just not a problem, for others I can see why it would be. But your point does bring up another valid issue, this is an international device, not a USA based device in terms of where it would be sold. I'm sure MS will introduce privacy settings to appease whatever local laws the gaming console would be sold in in order to ensure they can compete on a global scale with Sony. That said, all these worries and concerns are valid, but they have yet to be addressed, so this is all speculation until E3 and more information is revealed. We had a one hour reveal with very little information, disappointing and a PR disaster, but it's months until both systems come out and as of right now both Sony and MS are playing the waiting game to see who can provide the bigger bang at E3 and after. I think honestly Sony is being quiet to posture and compete with MS announcements and MS is doing the same.

Achilles04
Achilles04

@Warful @Achilles04 Good points. I totally agree that the Kinect should be optional. I don't think it was a good move on the part of MS. I guess for me it's just not a problem, for others I can see why it would be. But your point does bring up another valid issue, this is an international device, not a USA based device in terms of where it would be sold. I'm sure MS will introduce privacy settings to appease whatever local laws the gaming console would be sold in in order to ensure they can compete on a global scale with Sony. That said, all these worries and concerns are valid, but they have yet to be addressed, so this is all speculation until E3 and more information is revealed. We had a one hour reveal with very little information, disappointing and a PR disaster, but it's months until both systems come out and as of right now both Sony and MS are playing the waiting game to see who can provide the bigger bang at E3 and after. I think honestly Sony is being quiet to posture and compete with MS announcements and MS is doing the same.

Warful
Warful

@Achilles04 @Warful The American government has through organisations done similar things before, they would install cameras on people's TV's to monitor their actions etc. while they watched television. HOWEVER this was of course all on right terms, they knew the cameras were installed etc. etc. however this could very well be the same, they could specify what different age groups etc. are doing while they watch TV, what kind of food you eat and from there add these food commercials somewhere and make a buck off it. I do understand where you're coming from and I agree to a certain degree, what you will have to understand though, just as I am trying to comprehend. Microsoft said they were listening to their customers. ALOT of customers are complaining about the obligatory kinect. It still stays. Why?

Why is it SUCH a problem having it as mandatory just as with the Xbox 360? and I agree I think this type of tech is awesome and all, but when the German and Australian government have classified this console as a Spy device and it comes as an obligatory device, I can't but just be a bit suspicious about this.

IF someone wants some high tech voice commands? let them buy the Kinect on the side.
if your'e a conservative simple gamer that isn't for all the fancy pancy, then let them just get the Xbox One console alone. It's that simple, so why won't they let it happen unless they have a plan with it?

Achilles04
Achilles04

@dman123_1 @Warful @Achilles04 I get wanting it not to berequired, but isn't this what we dreamed of when we watched Back to the Future as kids? Futuristic tvs, turning on machines without pushing buttons. I think this is innovation. You don't have to use it for games unless you buy kinect based games. I will be using it for ease of use. The machine seems a lot more intuitive in terms of reading motions and going through menus. Plus despite everyone mocking it, I like the integration for home entertainment. I will however only be buying the X1 if I like the gaming capabilities which we don't even know yet. Same goes for th PS4, because so far all I know is about the games, not the actual system since Sony is being quiet. I will buy both if impressed, simple as that.

Warful
Warful

@dman123_1 @Warful @Achilles04 The eye is mandatory, the kinect is obligatory. That is a major difference for me. I am not support Sony however, I do think they've done some things too, and the fact that they are keeping shut at the moment and not play any cards, is just childish in a way. They are letting all the focus fall on the Xbox and keep out of the spotlight just because they know if they should play a card now, and prove to be a wrong card, they lose their advantage.

The only single problem I have with the Xbox One, is the obligatory Kinect, it's that simple actually. Why does it have to be obligatory?