Next Gen Console: The NSABox

Microsoft Accused in new Snowden leaks.
This article is over 11 years old and may contain outdated information

The recent whistle-blowing scandal involving Edward Snowden illuminated a much over-looked aspect of how people approach being online. The idea of “Big Brother” looking over your shoulder while you are online has been a long repeated theme within the realm of science fiction lately seems like a crushing reality.

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According to the Guardian, Snowden has provided proof that Microsoft has been working with domestic intelligence agencies such as the NSA and FBI.  This is in the wake of companies such as Apple having been exposed in September of 2012 to having provided the FBI with over a million iPhone ID numbers.  

This isn’t a Philip K. Dick book, this is the new generation of cyber-policing.

The recently proposed “We Are Watching You Act” measure actually proposes to regulate certain aspects of cyber-policing.  It would require intelligence agencies such as the NSA to inform users that they were being watched.  In the case of the Xbox One, Microsoft  would be required to notify you if they were observing or using your data through systems such as the Kinect cameras; something they have repeatedly denied they would ever do over the past few years.

In fact, when they announced features for the Xbox One, they said:

“By design, you will determine how responsive and personalized your Xbox One is to you and your family during setup. The system will navigate you through key privacy options, like automatic or manual sign in, privacy settings, and clear notifications about how data is used. When Xbox One is on and you’re simply having a conversation in your living room, your conversation is not being recorded or uploaded….If you don’t want the Kinect sensor on while playing games or enjoying your entertainment, you can pause Kinect….data will not leave your Xbox One without your explicit permission. “

Now that doubt has been cast on whether or not the Xbox One will be at the disposal of the NSA’s wishes, Microsoft continues to vehemently deny any allegation that they have provided government agencies with any blanket access to any of their products. It is unlikely that claims for those accused of violating Outlook  privacy features are handled by the same people who control the privacy of the Kinect, but it is still very troubling.

Better reread all that fine print in those license agreements.

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Lars Warn