Germany, Australia Think The Xbox One Is An Orwellian Nightmare

    May 28, 2013

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.