Officials Speak Out Against Xbox One’s Always-On Kinect

The new Xbox One, launching later this year, will require the included Kinect sensor to be connected for the system to function. You can also turn your new system on with voice commands like “Xbox On”, which implies that the system will always be watching and listening for your commands.

Always listening. Always watching.

This doesn’t sit well with Tim Vines, director at Civil Liberties Australia, who spoke to GamesFIX about the possible breach of privacy the new device may cause:

“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.

The piece also includes a quote from Berlin’s federal data protection commissioner, who feels that the ability for Microsoft to spy on him constitutes a “twisted nightmare.”

Now, Orwellian conspiracy theories aside, the fact that the Kinect sensor has to be connected alongside an online connection does pose a potential risk. That being said, the amount of flack Microsoft would catch if a single intrepid soul discovered any nefarious doings completely outweighs the benefits of watching people play Dance Central naked. It’s all conjecture at this point, but as far as civil liberties go, I think we’re safe for now.

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