Xbox One Kinect privacy explained

New policy document says data captured through camera does not leave the console, "Expressions" data automatically destroyed at end of every session.

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A new and updated Microsoft privacy policy document (via IGN) outlines how the Xbox One's Kinect camera captures data and what happens to that data once it is captured.

One new feature for Xbox One is the ability for players to sign in through Kinect facial recognition. The Kinect camera measures distances between key points on a player's' face to create a numeric value that is specific to one player.

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No one would be able to look at these numbers and determine that it represents the player in question, Microsoft said. In addition, the company assured that this authentication data stays on the Xbox One and is not shared with third-parties.

Microsoft also pointed out that players are in control of photographs taken by Kinect during gameplay and whether the system captures voice commands. The Kinect can be turned off at any time, Microsoft reminded players.

For certain games and apps, like Xbox Fitness, the Kinect will track skeletal movements to determine exercise statistics. Players can determine how these data points are managed and if they want them to be shared outside of the console.

The Xbox One Kinect privacy document also touches on the system's new "Expressions" capability, which allows players to use a defined facial expression to control or influence a game. According to Microsoft, this data "does not identify you," stays on the local console, and is "destroyed" once a session ends.

In the case of the Xbox One's new GameDVR feature, during multiplayer matches, any participant can capture gameplay, which may include a player's in-game character or gamertag. However, audio chat is not recorded for GameDVR clips, Microsoft said.

GameDVR on Xbox One will have three distinct privacy settings for captured content:

  • Blocked – Not viewable by anyone, but you. Game clips don't appear in anyone else’s activity feeds.
  • Friends only – Viewable by only your friends. Game clips only appears in your friends activity feeds.
  • Everybody – Viewable by anyone; game clips appear in activity feeds for friends.

Users are free to delete game clips from their profiles at any time. In addition, parents can control sharing within the GameDVR settings. Sharing for children is automatically set to to Blocked.

Concerning voice chat through Kinect, Microsoft said, "You should not expect any level of privacy concerning your use of the live communication features such as voice chat, video, and communications in live-hosted gameplay sessions offered through the services." Microsoft said it may monitor these communications "to the extent permitted by law," but made clear that it cannot monitor the entire service and makes no attempt to do so.

"Please note that Xbox does not listen in on Skype calls," Microsoft said.

In the "Children and Parental Consent" tab in the Xbox One privacy statement, Electronic Arts, Xseed Games, and Disney Interactive are listed as third-parties that may collect personal information, though the extent to which they may do so is unclear.

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