German Government Expresses Xbox One Concerns


Germany is showing signs of hesitation toward Xbox One, specifically its forced integration with next-gen Kinect. Reported by Spiegel (Polygon has an English version of the story), Germany’s federal commissioner for data protection and freedom of information, Peter Schaar, states via translation:

“The Xbox [One] registered all sorts of personal information about me. Reaction rates, my learning or emotional states. You are then processed on a remote server and possibly even to third parties. Whether it be deleted ever, the person concerned cannot influence.”

Microsoft states, “… there are settings, obviously, in the console to be able to change the settings of how your Kinect is used, if you’re interested.”

The idea of having a camera in your living room, an all seeing eye that is detailed enough to charge you more for a movie if too many people are detected, is creepy. The new Kinect for Xbox One can tell if you’re overweight, what your heart rate is, and monitor movement. What it does with all of those things is unknown.

But, as eerie as those implications are, those fearing a “big brother” scenario seem hypocritical. I’m writing this on a laptop that has a web cam peering at my eyes. Sitting next to me is a cell phone with two cameras, positioned as such so one of them always exposes a peering lens. Each of the lenses has a line of sight into my personal life.

I don’t support the idea of cameras everywhere, but it is an element that has become ingrained in our society. Consumers latched onto Kinect, and now it becomes part of the hardware. It is a natural evolution. The fight has come too late, and while I do worry about someone, somehow hacking into Xbox Live, there are far more important items for them to seek out – beneficial items – than seeing gamers peering lifelessly into a TV playing Call of Duty. I doubt Microsoft could extract any valuable data from that information, or rather, no more than they could siphon from typical online play sessions sans camera.