Microsoft have, pretty much since E3, been getting a lot of stick about their push to get a Kinect sensor installed in every home with an Xbox One. Personally, I would argue the fact that the 360’s version of Kinect was a bit rubbish is the major cause for concern. However, those prone to wearing tin foil hats are a tad concerned that the new Kinect will allow the all-seeing eye of Big Brother into their living room where it will render prompt and swift judgment on the fact that they play games whilst wearing nothing but a pair of Y-fronts.
In all fairness, you’re right to be concerned about the privacy of your data – and should do everything reasonable to keep your digital life secure. To Microsoft’s credit, they have gone on record to state that the data collected by Kinect will, unless you have given explicit permission, never leave the confines of your Xbox One.
In the lead up to the next generation of consoles, Sony have had a jolly old time poking fun at Microsoft over just about every aspect of the Xbox One. But they’ve said very little about how private your digital life on PlayStation is. Akin to the manner that Sony revealed that online multiplayer will be limited to those with a PS Plus account (in the footnotes of a presentation), Sony have come out with the following statement (in the footnotes of their Software Terms of Service):
Are we monitoring PSN?
Yes but we can’t monitor all PSN activity and we make no commitment to do so. However, we reserve the right in our sole discretion to monitor and record any or all of your PSN activity and to remove any of your user-generated material (UGM) at our sole discretion, without further notice to you. Your use of PSN and our community features may be recorded and collected by us or sent to us by other users as described in 13.1.
Any information collected in this way, for example, your UGM, the content of your voice and text communications, video of your gameplay, the time and location of your activities, and your name, your PSN Online ID and IP address, may be used by us or our affiliated companies to enforce these Terms and the SEN Terms of Service, to comply with the law, to protect our rights and those of our licensors and users, and to protect the personal safety of our employees and users. This information may be passed to the police or other appropriate authorities. By accepting these Software Usage Terms, you expressly consent to this.
Yep, you read that right. They reserve the right to monitor or record any or all of your activity on PSN. Scary stuff indeed – collecting anonymised usage statistics is one thing, but giving themselves the right to snoop into your private communications on PSN is frankly shocking.
The next generation of consoles will undoubtedly be shaped by the services that both platforms provide – and, as a result, the amount of data that you’ll generate as you navigate and use these services will be more voluminous than ever. But just because you use a service to help conduct your online life does not – and never should – give the company that runs it the right to demand that you give up every last shred of your privacy.
I encourage each and every one of you to make some noise about this – as this is a major infringement of your rights and, if left unchallenged, silent assent will quickly become confused with consent.