Germany, Australia Think The Xbox One Is An Orwellian Nightmare

    May 28, 2013
    Zach Walton
    Comments are off for this post.

Much of the controversy surrounding the Xbox One thus far has been focused on its vague used game policy. Now another controversy may be brewing in countries with strong privacy laws.

Gamasutra reports that both Germany and Australia have expressed concern over the new Kinect camera in the Xbox One. It’s been confirmed that the camera must be connected for the Xbox One to operate, and some fear this will lead to snooping for marketing purposes. Microsoft, of course, says it won’t be using it to violate privacy, but some aren’t so sure.

Germany’s Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information Peter Schaar says that he needs to know if the Xbox One’s Kinect can store user information, and whether or not Microsoft can share that information with third parties. He goes so far to call the Xbox One and its potential to spy on living rooms a “twisted nightmare.” [Update: In the comments, Kenny tells us the statement from Schaar, when translated, merely says that he isn’t concerned about Microsoft spying on people via Kinect.]

Civil Liberties Australia Director Tim Vines says that the Xbox One’s Kinect is a surveillance device under Australian law. As such, Microsoft will have to come forward and tell users who can access the information it collects. He also encourages Australians to skip out on the Xbox One if Microsoft doesn’t give users an option to turn off the Kinect camera.

Germany and Australia aren’t exactly huge game markets, but it does show that people are uncomfortable with the idea of constantly being watched. Sony’s PS4 isn’t much better as it ships with its own camera, but the Japanese company hasn’t outlined an Orwellian surveillance regime in a patent application either.

  • Kenny

    No, this is incorrect, did you put the original German article through Google translate or something? It specifically says that he is NOT concerned about it.

    “Angst davor, dass Microsoft über die in der Konsolenkamera integrierten Mikrofone Gespräche abhört, hat Datenschützer Peter Schaar nicht: “Dass Microsoft jetzt mein Wohnzimmer ausspioniert, ist bloß eine verdrehte Horrorvision.” (Spiegel.de)

    This actually translates as:
    “Peter Schaar is not concerned that Microsoft would “wire-tap” conversations through the integrated console camera: “That Microsoft would now spy out my living room, is merely a twisted horror vision.”

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/zach-walton Zach Walton

      I was just going off of Gamasutra’s translation. Thanks for the full translation. I’ll update my story.

      • Walex

        That he is aware and thinks it’s a “horror” tells me all I need to know. He is right. Whether he is concerned about it not,I am, we should all be. It is what they are doing. Bill Gates has lost his mind. He has lived up on the hill looking down on us Whos in Whoville for too long. His promotion of the iris scanning data mining of school kids via Common Core is exactly what they did in USSR and are still doing in China. No thanks.

        • LWJR

          Orwell is ignored by the Zombie Gamers and Screenwatchers who get their life-purpose-meaning from living in virtual reality. In 40 years, tech-proletariat will be a common term the elite will use to describe screenwatchers with implanted eyescreens and cameras in their eyes.