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Germany’s Federal Data Protection Commissioner Declares Xbox One A “Monitoring Device”

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Microsoft have been coming under a lot of pressure from media and gamers alike since there announcement of the new Xbox One. Perhaps most disconcerting of all is the revelation that Kinect will always be listening to you, waiting for your commands, and must also always be connected to the console for the console to even work.

That also means that while the console is on Kinect’s camera system is constantly watching you as well. Understandably this has raised a lot of concern amongst the public, with people rightfully feeling that this is a serious breach of privacy and a system that could be easily abused. And then there was also the patent Microsoft filed back at the end of 2012 which describes a piece of Kinect technology which would allow both themselves and other companies to monitor your living room so that they can control your content based upon how many people are sitting in the room.

Now, Germany’s Federal Data Protection Commissioner, Peter Schaar, has weighed in with his opinion of the new console via German site Spiegal: “Under the heading, game device ‘Microsoft pushes a monitoring device in the market,” Schaar told Spiegal. “The Xbox continuously records all sorts of personal information about me. Reaction rates, my learning or emotional states. The 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 fact that Microsoft now spying on my living room is merely a twisted nightmare.” He continued.

UPDATE: A certain Mr. Zwerger, who is a native German speaker, has informed me via the comments that Google Translate got this section of the text wrong, and kind provided the correct translation. When Spiegal asked Schaar if he was worried, he replied: “That Microsoft would now spy out my living room, is merely a twisted horror vision.” The title of this article has been updated accordingly.

As a country Germany highly values personal privacy, a policy which I sincerely wish that the UK would adopt. We’re already a heavily monitored population, but now Microsoft want to introduce a camera and microphone straight into our living room which we’re incapable of turning off without also turning off the console.

Even more annoying, Microsoft don’t even seem able to provide a genuinely good reason for Kinect having to always be on. Sure, being able to turn on the console via voice command is sort of cool, but that’ hardly justification for having to have Kinect connected at all times. Give me a reason which genuinely benefits me for having Kinect on at all times and I may be willing to reconsider my stance, but until then you can take your camera and stuff it up your…..

Ahem.

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3 replies »

  1. > “The fact that Microsoft now spying on my living room is merely a twisted nightmare.”

    This line is mistranslated. It actually says “Angst davor, dass Microsoft über die in der Konsolenkamera integrierten Mikrofone Gespräche abhört, hat Datenschützer Peter Schaar nicht: “Dass Microsoft jetzt mein Wohnzimmer ausspioniert, ist bloß eine verdrehte Horrorvision.” (Spiegel.de)

    This actually translates as: “Peter Schaar is not concerned that Microsoft would “wire-tap” conversations through the integrated console camera: “That Microsoft would now spy out my living room, is merely a twisted horror vision.”

    Source: I am native german speaker.

    • Thank you for the direct translation, Zwerger. This is the problem with having to use Google translate: it’s often innaccurate, and obviously I just have to take its work.

      I’ll place an edit in the article straight away.

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