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Xbox One Monitoring: Kinect Will Respect Your Privacy, But Voice Chat Is Fair Game

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
News
Tags:
Kinect, Microsoft, Xbox One

Xbox One Monitoring: Kinect Will Respect Your Privacy, But Voice Chat Is Fair Game

The Xbox One's Kinect sensor is capable of collecting all manner of metrics and personal information, while Xbox Live's recent Terms Of Use update allows them to share your personal details with third parties. Microsoft are keen to ensure gamers that everything is on the level - and you can opt out of targeted adverts - in a new blog post.

However, we "should not expect any level of privacy concerning your use of the live communication features such as voice chat, video and communications in live-hosted gameplay sessions offered through the Services." So, there's that.

The newly-updated Xbox Privacy Statement explains what data Kinect will collect and how it will be used. "The camera can be used to sign you in," it reads. "To do so, it measures distances between key points on your face to create a numeric value that represents only you. No one could look at the numbers and know they represent you. This authentication information stays on the console and is not shared with anyone.”

"Microsoft may collect those numeric values to enable and improve gameplay and improve the gaming experience.” They're anonymous, and will apparently be “destroyed after analysis is complete.”

Naturally the post is keen to emphasise that users have control over what Kinect is able to monitor and broadcast. “You control what happens to photographs taken during gameplay and whether voice commands are captured for analysis," the post continues. "You can turn Kinect off at any time. When Kinect is used with certain games and apps, your skeletal movements can be used to estimate exercise stats. You can decide how your stats are managed and whether they are shared.

“Some game titles may take advantage of a new Xbox capability called expressions. This feature allows you to use your defined facial expressions to control or influence a game. This data does not identify you, stays on the console and is destroyed once your session ends.”

Apparently our personal data will only be used to identify Xbox One customers with linked third-party accounts, as per their recent TOU update. “Except as described in this privacy statement, we won’t disclose your personal information to a third party without your consent."

Interestingly, Kinect voice chat also won't be recorded by the in-game DVR, which might well be for the best when playing Call Of Duty. "When playing multiplayer on Xbox Live, any player in that session can use GameDVR to record their view of the gameplay taking place in that session.  The recording may capture your in-game character and gamertag in the game clips created by other players in the gameplay session. No audio chat is recorded in these game clips."

Speaking of audio chat, the privacy statement itself holds an interesting tidbit about voice chat and audio. Apparently Microsoft can and will record Xbox Live voice chat for both techinical and security purposes, meaning that users "should not expect any level of privacy concerning your use of the live communication features such as voice chat, video and communications in live-hosted gameplay sessions offered through the Services." The firm will monitor Xbox Live communications “to the extent permitted by law," but will make no attempt to monitor the entire service. Skype calls will remain totally private. Before you get too worried, this is broadly how the service already operates.

In  terms of adverts, Microsoft suggests that collected data from numerous sources "to help make the ads you see on ad-supported services more relevant." However, users can "opt out of targeted ads from Microsoft and may choose to opt out on any device after you’ve signed in to Microsoft account." The privacy statement seems to be focused on PC and browser adverts, but we assume it this will be the case on Xbox One.

If you're still worried about Kinect 'snooping' into your living room, you could always pick up one of these. Or one of these? Regardless, let us know how you feel about this state of affairs.

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