A technology and media lawyer at UK law firm Charles Russell has offered their opinion on the Xbox One debate, claiming that Microsoft's 'Big Brother' Kinect technology isn't all that much different to the functionality of "online shopping, personal video recorders and loyalty cards," but – from a legal perspective - Microsoft needs to be transparent with consumers over the data it is collecting.
In a statement sent to VideoGamer.com, Vanessa Barnett, Technology & Media Partner at law firm Charles Russell LLP, said that "the patent filing by Microsoft [related to TV-based achievements] is an interesting one – proper Big Brother in my living room, it seems.
"But, pause for thought, is this not what many products and services already do? If we think about the functionality of online shopping, personal video recorders and loyalty cards, it’s the same end game isn't it.
"What's new with Microsoft is that the deployment of the 'Big Brother' aspects are very evolved, technologically. So I predict the usual strong ‘anti’ reaction, followed by a spell of calm, followed by mass adoption. Why? Because that’s what happens every time we see new technology – and this one has some consumer benefits wrapped up inside."
Kinect is required to be on for Xbox One to operate, leading to privacy concerns over what data the device is capturing or when it is watching.
Tim Vines, director at Civil Liberties Australia, told website GamesFix that Xbox One "meets the definition of a surveillance device under some Australian laws".
But Barnett says the key to Microsoft's initiative "from a legal perspective, will be transparency – being clear about what data is being collected, how it’s being used, and – of course – the ability to say 'no thanks'."
Microsoft has attracted criticism for its decision to require Kinect and the confusion surrounding Xbox One's various policies following the console's reveal last week. The firm's official line, however, appears to be that you can turn Kinect off by removing power from Xbox One entirely.
In a statement provided to Kotaku, Microsoft said that it is "designing the new Kinect with simple, easy methods to customize privacy settings, provide clear notifications and meaningful privacy choices for how data will be used, stored and shared.
"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 ten 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."
More details on Kinect's Xbox One functionality will be revealed at a later date.
Source: Charles Russell LLP Statement