Microsoft's updated Xbox privacy statement and what it means to Xbox owners
As Microsoft readies to launch the Xbox One later this month, the company released an updated version of its Xbox privacy statement. While almost every company that offers a service forces its users to accepts its Terms of Agreement, Microsoft has been under more scrutiny due to the sensitivity of the information collected from its Kinect peripheral which tracks body movements, facial expressions, and voice recognition.
In an updated statement, Microsoft assures its customers that all data collected about your appearance will be totally private.
"The camera can be used to sign you in," the statement 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.
"You control what happens to photographs taken during gameplay and whether voice commands are captured for analysis. You can turn Kinect off at any time," Microsoft assures.
"Some game titles may take advantage of a new Xbox capability called expressions," Microsoft explains. "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."
But while your appearance may be safely secured, the same can't be expected of your use in the "live communication features such as voice chat, video and communications in live-hosted gameplay sessions offered through the Services." Microsoft says it may monitor communications "to the extent permitted by law, but we cannot monitor the entire Service and make no attempt to do so." The company also points out that other players can record and use your communications on Xbox LIVE and your "[c]ommunications in live-hosted gameplay sessions may also be broadcast to others."
With the Xbox One now able to record gameplay, players are cautioned that 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." Although your in-game character and Gamertag is recorded, the audio chat is not.
Microsoft insists that Xbox does not listen in on your Skype calls. So that's comforting.
I highly suggest anyone getting an Xbox One read over Microsoft's updated privacy statement, if only to calm any fears you may have over spying.