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Xbox One's Always-On Kinect A Twisted Nightmare, Says Germany's Federal DPC
There has been a lot of controversy spewing across the internet communities involving the Xbox One's consumer policies. There are three very big issues everyone is talking about: Used game/license fees, the 24 hour mandatory check-in and Kinect always being on. The German Federal Data Protection Commissioner was not at all pleased with that last piece of info.
Prominent German news and information site, Spiegel, managed to get in a word or two with their own Ferderal Data Protection Commissioner, Peter Schaar. The man in charge of protecting consumer privacy from digital, physical or unapproved data intrusion had this to say about Kinect 2.0 being always-on, always-listening and potentially always-watching...
Under the heading, game device 'Microsoft pushes a monitoring device in the market," ... "The Xbox continuously records all sorts of personal information about me. Reaction rates, my learning or emotional states. [They] 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."
The mention of data recording he's talking about relates to the patented technology within Kinect that enables Microsoft to monitor and potentially monetize users who exceed certain viewing limits for copyrighted material(s). In simple terms, if you have too many people over to watch a movie you could be charged extra based on Kinect monitoring how many people are in the room.
Monitoring technology is nothing new. Even everyone's beloved Valve has been interested in adapting a biometrics controller technology to monitor and adapt experiences based on feedback generated from the biological and reactionary properties of gamers, including but not limited to hand vibrations, body temperature, grip and pulse rates. This technology, however, is no where near as intrusive as actually having a camera and microphone always on and always monitoring you.
Microsoft has mentioned that privacy of consumers is a huge concern for them, as many gaming sites began questioning the same thing that Schaar did when they found out that even in low-power mode the Kinect was always-listening, leading many to speculate if it was always-watching, too?
According to Schaar, he doesn't mince or crush the intentions of what everyone else is thinking into a PR-friendly response. Germany's FDP Commissioner simply stated that...
"The fact that Microsoft now spying on my living room is merely a twisted nightmare."
Perhaps Google Translate didn't mean to say “twisted nightmare” but I'm sure if the report is “inaccurate and incomplete” we'll be hearing about it from Microsoft. Whether we'll get any straight answers is anyone's guess.
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