Xbox One Kinect functionality sparks privacy concerns

Xbox One Kinect functionality sparks privacy concerns
Craig Chapple

By Craig Chapple

May 28th 2013 at 12:54PM

Politician questions how data from always-connected console will be used

Germany’s federal data protection commissioner Peter Schaar has voiced his concerns over privacy on the Xbox One.

Speaking to Spiegel, Peter Schaar questioned whether users would be able to control what information was stored on the console and the new Kinect, sparking privacy concerns over how that data will be handled.

Schaar stated that information, such as his emotional state and reaction rates, would be processed on an external server, and was concerned this could then be passed on to third-parties.

“The Xbox continuously records all sorts of personal information about me,” he said.

“Reaction rates, my learning or emotional states. They are then processed on an external server, and possibly even passed on to third-parties. Whether they will ever be deleted, the person can not influence.”

He added: "The fact that Microsoft now spying on my living room is merely a twisted nightmare.”

The new Kinect is set to be a central part of the Xbox One. The tech can recognise who is in the room, and enables users to switch between various entertainment services on the console, such as TV, music, games and Skype through voice commands.

The device can now also detect slight wrist movements, balance and transfer of weight, as well as detecting a player’s emotional state and read their heartbeat. Microsoft has also claimed the sensor can transfer 2GB of data per second in 1080p.

In the past, Microsoft filed for a patent to allow the Kinect to monitor the number of viewers in a room, which could then be cross-checked with the maximum number of viewers permitted by a game’s licence. If the console deems too many people are present, users will be prompted to pay an additional fee to upgrade their licence to then play the title.

“The users consuming the content on a display device are monitored so that if the number of user-views licensed is exceeded, remedial action may be taken,” read the filing.

In response to its potential use of the patent, which is by now quite old, a Microsoft spokesperson said: "Microsoft regularly applies for and receives patents as part of its business practice; not all patents applied for or received will be incorporated into a Microsoft product."