Microsoft Promises to Challenge Government Spying Demands, No One is Relieved

Microsoft has promised to legally challenge any governmental orders to use Xbox One's Kinect to gather information, but since this seems to be in reaction to them admitting to having shared tons of personal data from Skype and Outlook, I'm not reassured.

Microsoft has not made nearly as many friends in the last few months as they had hoped to.  Even ignoring the short-term hate and long-term loss of trust from the Xbox One’s reveal and original restrictions (including the always-on Kinect), having a report surface detailing thousands of examples of personal information being shared from chat and email programs is not a great way to gain trust.

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The Xbox One’s Kinect was worrisome even before we became aware of the amount of personal data Microsoft has shared in the past.  Even if the information gained from its camera and microphone never left Microsoft as a company, it was still providing a very personal look into many people’s lives that just should not be necessary for anyone to enjoy a video game.

Ready for assurance?

Now the company is trying to mitigate some of the concern people might feel about having an always-on camera and microphone in their house under the control of a company already infamous for sharing private information with the government.

Absent a new law, we don’t believe the government has the legal authority to compel us or any other company that makes products with cameras and microphones to start collecting voice and video data.

In terms of reassuring wording, this statement is just aware enough of the bases it needs to cover to be almost no reassurance at all.  “Absent a new law”, “we don’t believe”, “company that makes products with cameras and microphones…” the number of disclaimers included in the statement is actually fairly impressive.

Honestly, it would probably still be more reassuring if the statement was not being made as such a direct response to Microsoft having already been shown to share personal information with the government.  Speaking for myself, I’d have prefered they simply say, “We can’t exactly say no to the government any more than you can.”

At least that would have felt more like an honest apology than a pat on the head.

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Writer, gamer, and generally hopeful beneath a veneer of cynicism.