Xbox One facial data from Kinect doesn't leave the console

Microsoft says for privacy reasons, data collected from camera never leaves the local console; next-gen Kinect not designed with ad functionality in mind.


Those concerned about the potential for the Xbox One's Kinect camera to scan their face and upload that data to the cloud can breathe a sigh of relief. Microsoft director of product planning Albert Penello said in a NeoGAF post that this won't happen for privacy reasons.

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The confirmation came as part of a post from Penello addressing questions about Kinect as it relates to NuAds--interactive advertising--on the Xbox platform. He said the next-generation Kinect was not designed with ad functionality in mind.

In a previous interview, Penello suggested that because the Xbox One's Kinect can read facial expressions and determine levels of engagement, Microsoft could provide this data to advertisers.

"This is the point that seems to draw some controversy," Penello said.

However, "nobody is working on that" kind of technology at the moment, Penello said. "We have a lot more interesting and pressing things to dedicate time towards. It was an interview done speculatively, and I'm not aware (emphasis original) of any active work in this space."

If such an advertising initiative were to come to fruition, Penello said users can be sure that it would not happen without people having full control over it. "Period," he said.

At present, Penello explained that the Xbox One's Kinect can recognize a user's face and log them in directly. He said there could be some "cool features" Microsoft could enable if it stored this data in the cloud, such as being able to be auto-recognized at a friend's house. However, "for privacy reasons, your facial data doesn't leave the console," he said.

"I'll say this--we take a lot of heat around stuff we've done and I can roll with it," Penello said. "Some of it is deserved. But preventing Kinect from being used inappropriately is something the team takes very seriously."

Germany's federal data protection commissioner Peter Schaar said in May that the Xbox One is like a "monitoring device" because it records "all sorts of personal information" about users. Microsoft has since clarified its Xbox One privacy policy, saying Kinect can be paused during games and entertainment and that the system will seek user permission before sharing personal data.

The Xbox One launches on November 22. A recent report from the International Data Corporation stated that the PlayStation 4 will outsell the Xbox One this holiday due to its lower price point, among other things.

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