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Xbox One: Microsoft Will "Aggressively Challenge" Government Spying

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
Kinect, Microsoft, NSA, PRISM, Spying, Xbox One

Xbox One: Microsoft Will "Aggressively Challenge" Government Spying

That large eye of the Xbox One's Kinect sensor has come to represent the possibility of something a little terrifying, and no matter how many disclaimers Microsoft have offered up, the notion of an all-seeing device that can read your heartbeat lying in wait for activation is a disquieting one in the wake of the PRISM scandal.

But it's ok, because Microsoft have now said that they'll take any government that tries to snoop on Xbox One owners via Kinect to court.

“Absent a new law, we don’t believe the government has the legal authority to compel us or any other company that makes products with cameras and microphones to start collecting voice and video data," said a missive from Microsoft, sent to The Verge.

“We’d aggressively challenge in court any attempts to try and force us to do so.”

Microsoft denied supplying the US government with carte blanche access to Skype, Skydrive, Outlook and any other MS product in the wake of the PRISM business, of course that oesn't discount the probability of them handing some stuff over when asked.

"When we upgrade or update products legal obligations may in some circumstances require that we maintain the ability to provide information in response to a law enforcement or national security request," read Microsoft's statement in response to concerns about governments requesting data.

I reckon we send Gene Hackman and Will Smith up to Redmond to make sure everything's in order. How about you? [via EG]

Add a comment14 comments
Tsung  Jul. 23, 2013 at 10:51

Court says do it, they have to do it challenge rejected. The wording says "force us" which would seem to suggest they would be compliant without any challenge. Additionally they only mention governments, they don't mention anything about private companies.

It's a requirement to have Kinect connected, it's not like the private individuals have an option to turn it off. Oh wait, they do, they can decide not to buy the console in the first place..

Quietus  Jul. 23, 2013 at 11:21

Exactly. Whether Microsoft like it or not, they WILL lose customers over it. I've never used Kinect, and never plan to, as I think it's a a novelty. I therefore don't want one with my console, so forcing me to have it puts me off, and I am one of those that will not be buying one.

DivideByZero  Jul. 23, 2013 at 11:21

"Microsoft have now said that they'll take any government that tries to snoop on Xbox One owners via Kinect to court."

Yeah, because they do that already with Bing... right.

F***ing clown buckets.

tapi  Jul. 23, 2013 at 12:12

*sigh*

What they're stating, quite clearly, is that they don't collect or store any personally identifiable data from the camera or microphone. This means that there is no law that can be used to get them to hand over the data, becausethere is no data. So, if an entity comes along and says 'we need you to change the system to colllect data and then hand it over to us' then there isn't a legal basis to do so, so they'll challenge it.

The xbone is just like all laptops with a webcam and microphone MS cannot be presented with a court order to alter the system to start capturing data or 'wiretap', as it's not legal - hence "Absent a new law..." and if such a law could get introduced it would present a hell of a lot more problems than just one console.

where they hold your data (bing, outlook) is a different matter.
Bing, Google, any of the others have all been presented with either court warrants or National Security Letters forcing them to hand over specific data. As have thousands of smaller ISPs, web hosting companies; for godsake, if dealspwn or HUKD etc got a legal request from the right jurisdiction they'd have to hand over what (little) they have.

And again, the warrants and NSLs have to be specific - "we need the data for this guy, starting this date till now" and there is no legal basis for "let me have full access to all your data" (again as MS and all other companies have been clear about).

All of this finger pointing at MS is just ignoring the fact that if you provide your data to a third party, any third party, then you've lost control of it; and I do believe it's a way of dampening mass hysteria by concentrating on one small aspect to try and stop people realising just how big the problem is (i.e affecting the entire internet economy)

X10  Jul. 23, 2013 at 12:35

All of this finger pointing at MS is just ignoring the fact that if you provide your data to a third party, any third party, then you've lost control of it; and I do believe it's a way of dampening mass hysteria by concentrating on one small aspect to try and stop people realising just how big the problem is (i.e affecting the entire internet economy)


Hysteria - Bad.
Objective Views - Good.

It's like EULA's, if most people understood the possible implications this had and the future use cases then I think we'd all be a bit more cautious about where we hand over data, be it textual or visual.

Having said that, I bet most people have a Nectar card.

DivideByZero  Jul. 23, 2013 at 12:55

My PCs webcam is only on when I activate it though.
Kinect is mandatory always on. That's the big problem most people have with it.

And a camera in your home is a bit different to any data you fill out on a form.

It also doesn't say that they will not be collecting data. It just says that the law currently can't force them to do so on the governments request and they would fight it is they did so.

SamuraisShadow  Jul. 23, 2013 at 13:30

- Kinect can be turned off.
- You already have at least 3 or 4 cameras in your home, think Smartphones and Webcams.
- You can just put a towel over your kinect if you're that paranoid. Or maybe some tin foil to go with your hat.

There's so much BS running around the internet about Microsoft right now, it's insane. They're by no means aints but I feel it's diverting from the real issues like the government censoring the internet - THAT'S a real problem.

SamuraisShadow  Jul. 23, 2013 at 13:30

- Kinect can be turned off.
- You already have at least 3 or 4 cameras in your home, think Smartphones and Webcams.
- You can just put a towel over your kinect if you're that paranoid. Or maybe some tin foil to go with your hat.

There's so much BS running around the internet about Microsoft right now, it's insane. They're by no means aints but I feel it's diverting from the real issues like the government censoring the internet - THAT'S a real problem.

DivideByZero  Jul. 23, 2013 at 14:06

The government aren't censoring the internet... you will still be able to get your porn so calm down!

The difference with my webcam, phone etc. I switch them on when I decide.

Unless something has been changed since the early reports:

http://www.extremetech.com/gaming/156515-kinect-for-xbox-one-an-always-on-works-in-the-dark-camera-and-microphone-what-could-possibly-go-wrong

The idea of having an always on, always connected to the internet camera and mic that work in the dark and can read sign language and picks up your heartbeat, even when I am not using any of its features sounds a bit much to me.

Korma  Jul. 23, 2013 at 15:36

The government aren't censoring the internet... you will still be able to get your porn so calm down!

The difference with my webcam, phone etc. I switch them on when I decide.

Unless something has been changed since the early reports:

http://www.extremetech.com/gaming/156515-kinect-for-xbox-one-an-always-on-works-in-the-dark-camera-and-microphone-what-could-possibly-go-wrong

The idea of having an always on, always connected to the internet camera and mic that work in the dark and can read sign language and picks up your heartbeat, even when I am not using any of its features sounds a bit much to me.



They told us it can be turned off completely... It will only be listening for the command 'Xbox on'.

Of course, to hear that it would have to be listening to everything all the time, but it's off completely while it's doing that ;)

Korma  Jul. 23, 2013 at 15:42

The idea they won't be tracking any data is ludicrous. They already have tons of data attached to each gamertag/person and this will feed exponentially more info into that, to help personalise the monetisation which is what the Xbox One is all about.

Late  Jul. 23, 2013 at 16:35

But you can give voice commands to your equipment - and surely we all love seeing that in sci-fi films and tv shows? (Yeah, I like a bit of Star Trek - what of it :p )

I don't recall ever watching Star Trek Next Gen (the USS Enterprise quite explicitly had an abundance of microphones/cameras etc. aboard) and worrying about some data manager seeing into everyone's shower, listening out for key terrorism phrases, and building an advertising profile for everyone aboard the ship.

I'm not really that bothered at Kinect always watching and listening.
Yes, it's possible the government and/or corporations and/or individuals may be able to access personal data about me by using Kinect. But it's also entirely possible for them to gather such info in any manner of other ways.

DivideByZero  Jul. 23, 2013 at 17:09

@Korma... if it is only on and listening for "Xbox On" then that's fine.

@Late... I'm more bothered about naked pictures of me floating about on the internet and having to worry about what I do on the sofa.

If the camera is always on and you are always connected, surely one of the first things hackers will be doing is working out how to get in to peoples "CCTV".

It's amazing how people think they are safe with actual CCTV, just because it should be OK in theory. You can look up most IP cameras, they will have a default web page (URL). Just Google that URL minus the IP to find some cameras on the internet and then google the default passwords... you are straight in peoples homes / shops / lives.

I'm indifferent about the government looking in my living room, it's not like I do anything too doddy - I just don't want ANYONE looking in my living room. Hackers, MS, Gov...

Last edited by DivideByZero, Jul. 23, 2013 at 17:10
tapi  Jul. 23, 2013 at 18:59

The idea they won't be tracking any data is ludicrous. They already have tons of data attached to each gamertag/person and this will feed exponentially more info into that, to help personalise the monetisation which is what the Xbox One is all about.

No, they will be tracking use cases and how many people do a certain task a certain way or respond to a certain event (advert, audible prompt etc) but not storing personally identifiable date (audio or video) it's of no use to them.

What's a company going to do, sit and watch 24x7 footage of millions of people? Or a company's going to suddenly start blackmailing it's users, or randomnly post naked pictures of you onto its facebook account? By storing anything that they don't need they'll then be opening themselves up to legal requests for that information and lets be honest, why would they open themselves up to anything like that?

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