I’m all for protecting civil liberties when it comes to the intersection of technology and personal privacy, but with this particular story, everyone needs to just relax a little. The head of Civil Liberties Australia has come out with a big stick to hit Microsoft with over the Kinect voice and video features on the new Xbox One, saying that it’s a “surveillance device” in people’s homes. Come on. Really?!
For the uninitiated, the Xbox One has a beefed up Kinect sensor which now sees pretty much everything in front of it, from subtle wrist and finger movements, (reportedly) right down to the heartbeat of a person standing in front of it. Interestingly, it can also work in complete darkness.
The new Kinect will also have advanced voice controls baked in, meaning you can control your entire Xbox One just with your voice and a few simple hand gestures from the couch.
The head of Civil Liberties Australia, Tim Vines, spoke to GamesFix about the new Kinect, and said that users should be wary of what the device is capable of. I’ll quote him directly from the article (which you should read) so there’s no confusion:
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. The Xbox One continuously records all sorts of personal information about me. My reaction rates, my learning or emotional states. These are then processed on an external server, and possibly even passed on to third parties. The fact that Microsoft could potentially spy on my living room is merely a twisted nightmare.
Seriously, all this hysteria over the Xbox One supposedly “watching you” is complete tosh. What’s Microsoft going to do? Get a 3D wireframe of you scratching yourself and post it online for everyone to point and laugh at you? Is it going to take snaps of your lounge and upload it to the super-top secret lounge database for future use? No. It’s there to facilitate gaming. Get over yourselves, paranoids.
If you don’t want to be “watched” by the new Kinect, invest in a roll of duct tape to seal the camera shut, or better yet, don’t buy one. [GamesFix]