Company moves to soothe 'monitoring device' worries

Microsoft explains Xbox One privacy policy

Microsoft opened the information floodgates today in an effort to ease the worries of consumers and developers alike.

The combination of the device’s increased connectivity, addition of cloud computing and storage capabilities, and the news that Kinect is a non-optional part of the Xbox One interface has raised privacy concerns.

Germany’s Federal Data protection commissioner Peter Schaar described the Xbox One as a ‘monitoring device’ being pushed by Microsoft under the more appealing heading of a game device.

"The Xbox registered all sorts of personal information about me,” he told German gaming outlet Spiegel.

He claimed the deviced monitored “reaction rates, my learning or emotional states. You are then processed on a remote server and possibly even to third parties. The affected parties cannot influence whether it ever be deleted."

The new information from Microsoft seeks to ease these worries.

“By design, you will determine how responsive and personalized your Xbox One is to you and your family during setup,” says the Xbox One privacy page.

“The system will navigate you through key privacy options, like automatic or manual sign in, privacy settings, and clear notifications about how data is used. When Xbox One is on and you’re simply having a conversation in your living room, your conversation is not being recorded or uploaded.”

While some games – fitness applications for example – will monitor heart rates and other personal information, Microsoft promises this information will never leave the user’s console.

For those who are worried about having a camera in their living room, the Kinect can be paused, and only games that rely on its input will require the user to switch it on again.

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