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Concerns raised over the prying eyes of Xbox One's Kinect

Microsoft has said that the Kinect hardware will need to have the camera plugged in at all times. Now there are questions regarding what the company plans to do with the information it gathers.

Mike Rose, Blogger

May 28, 2013

2 Min Read

It seems that the Xbox One can't catch a break. While rumors about the console's preowned game business model are threatening Microsoft's reputation, and the decision to require a regular connection to the internet hasn't exactly proved popular, there are new concerns over the Kinect camera. Microsoft has said that the Kinect hardware will not be mandatory for all Xbox One games -- however, you will need to have the camera plugged in at all times for the console to function. Now Germany's federal commissioner for data protection and freedom of information Peter Schaar has raised concerns over the hardware, questioning the level of privacy that Xbox One users will be granted. He told German news website Spiegel Online that he is worried about the level of information that the Kinect is processing based on player actions, and questioned where this information will be stored, and whether it will be given to third parties. "The fact that Microsoft could potentially spy on my living room is merely a twisted nightmare," he said. Elsewhere, Civil Liberties Australia's director Tim Vines told Ninemsn that the situation may be even more serious in Australia. "Microsoft's new Xbox meets the definition of a surveillance device under some Australian laws," he said, "so they need to be upfront and tell customers whether anyone else can intercept their information or remotely access their device." "People should have the ability to turn off the camera or microphone, even if it limits the functionality of the machine," he added. "Of course, if Microsoft doesn't allow that, then people should vote with their wallets and skip the next Xbox." However, Microsoft has said previously that it takes privacy on the Xbox One seriously, with Phil Harrison stating, "We aren't using Kinect to snoop on anybody at all. We listen for the word 'Xbox on' and then switch on the machine, but we don't transmit personal data in any way, shape or form that could be personally identifiable to you, unless you explicitly opt into that."

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