Do you lie awake at night worrying about the Xbox One? Do you toss and turn in fitful dreams of your beloved console spying on your every move? Will you be draping a piece of cloth over the console’s required Kinect camera like one might over a bird cage? Some may call you paranoid, but German Consumer Protection Minister Isle Aigner is with you.
Isle Aigner’s here to protect consumer privacy and chew gum, and she’s fresh out of gum.
In an interview with Focus magazine, Aigner (featured above) voices her concern about the Xbox One’s required Kinect camera.
“A console with voice control that records every movement – which appears [to] many customers like a trojan that they bring into the living room.”
Sure, Microsoft isn’t smuggling a battalion of Roman soldiers into your home, but according to Aigner there is still the possibility of your privacy being violated. Aigner is not the first to question Microsoft’s decision regarding the Kinect camera. Many consumers worldwide are legitimately concerned that the Kinect’s camera and voice recognition technology could be used to listen in on daily activities.
So what do you have to say for yourself, Microsoft?
Microsoft has yet to provide specific answers in response to accusations of possible spying, however in an interview with Kotaku.au’s Stephen Totilo, Microsoft did state:
“We know our customers want and expect strong privacy protections to be built into our products, devices and services, and for companies to be responsible stewards of their data. Microsoft has more than 10 years of experience making privacy a top priority. Kinect for Xbox 360 was designed and built with strong privacy protections in place and the new Kinect will continue this commitment. We’ll share more details later.”
More details later? That may calm the nerves of a few consumers but I’m not sure Microsoft’s response will assuage our friend Miss Aigner. Aigner has made her opinions very clear: “Microsoft needs to urgently clarify the open questions and think about where the line is.”
She raises a good point. Where is the line, Microsoft? Some have theorized that the Kinect camera could be used to data mine for targeted advertising. Imagine sitting in your living room reading a book when suddenly your TV is displaying suggested readings, movies, and games based on your literary preferences? Many consumers would see this as a convenience, but others would consider such targeted advertising to be crossing the line.
What this means for Microsoft…
With all of this in mind, Microsoft needs to tread carefully. Shrewd consumers being concerned for their personal security is not uncommon; however, when governments begin to question a company’s motives, the game drastically changes.
European Union member states (which includes Germany) have historically taken consumer privacy very seriously, and they are not afraid to lay down the law. As Isle Aigner put it:
“The company [Microsoft] must clearly state what happens to the data of the users and how they are processed. Here there are red lines that must not be exceeded.”
Personal security is clearly not something with which to dodge questions when addressing the German Minister of Consumer Protection. If Microsoft is not more forthcoming with details on what kind of data the Xbox One collects, they may find themselves in hot water with more than just the German Minister of Consumer Protection.
What about you?
What do you think of all this? Will you be ready to smash your Xbox One to bits at a moments notice when it starts suggesting foods for you based on your blood type? Or do you embrace a future of and extremely personalized media experience?
Comment below, game hard, and stay safe!