xbox one 11 -
xbox one 11 -

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, 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

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Endless's Avatar

Endless@ CheekyLee

Microsoft have put themselves in a very sensitive line of fire, but one that was unavoidable given what they propose.

They could just have easily told us that it isn't always-on and connected when it actually is. But they didn't. So unless this is some fantastical sleight of hand where they reveal a small evil to draw attention away from an even bigger one, then it's my opinion that people should consider the benefits of such a system first, before the new idea becomes so diseased it's beyond recovery. Then all we're left with is a hollow forgettable experience that could have been something great.

It's not that it isnt happening and that people shouldn't be 'worried'. It is happening. It's been happening for years through all sorts of mediums to various extents and goes largely unnoticed until, that is, some sort of media event draws attention to it. Does that make it ok? Should people be worried about giving up a greater level of access to their lives? Maybe. But given the level of privacy control you have over the current Xbox it's not unreasonable to think that a similarly in-depth system exists for their new console.

If we're going to be up in arms about invasion of privacy - then do it. Do it across the board; All platforms, all sources, everything.

While it's trendy, Microsoft will take the brunt for anything anyone can conceivably stick to them. Meanwhile so many others are left to weave their wicked web in the shadows. It's a popular stance to look at the bad things about a product and cast aspersions on the rest of the offering where even the tiniest bit of ambiguity exists.

People fear the unknown, I get it. But I dont think we've been given enough cause to expect, or be worried about, criminal-level intrusion into our lives by Microsoft and it's partners.

Enemy of the State this is not imo ;)
Posted 00:01 on 30 May 2013
CheekyLee's Avatar


Originally Posted by Tom Orry
used for marketing and research and won't affect us

Oh, really? Won't affect us?

Facial recognition technology is a part of Disney’s new cruise liners. Moving Art lines the walls of the ship to entertain the passengers. This pictures move in response to the passenger’s facial movements, ensuring that the same sequence will not play twice. Although this may entertain, the passenger’s facial movements are being recorded by the computers within the pictures at all times.

Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, uses an array of photographs taken of the passengers, with or without their permission or prior knowledge. When a passenger wants to purchase one of these photographs, they use an encoded voucher (digital Mickey money). The facial recognition software works much like Facebook’s new photo tag application. Then the passenger can choose to have an album created through the use of this technology. Photos, regardless of whether or not they are sold to passengers, are entered into a data base for future use. Because the photographs are legally property of Disney, they can be used at the corporation’s discretion.

I was first taken to that link from this piece. Another quote:

A software engineer in my Facebook community wrote recently about his outrage that when he visited Disneyland, and went on a ride, the theme park offered him the photo of himself and his girlfriend to buy – with his credit card information already linked to it. He noted that he had never entered his name or information into anything at the theme park, or indicated that he wanted a photo, or alerted the humans at the ride to who he and his girlfriend were – so, he said, based on his professional experience, the system had to be using facial recognition technology. He had never signed an agreement allowing them to do so, and he declared that this use was illegal. He also claimed that Disney had recently shared data from facial-recognition technology with the United States military.
Yes, I know: it sounds like a paranoid rant.
Except that it turned out to be true. News21, supported by the Carnegie and Knight foundations, reports that Disney sites are indeed controlled by face-recognition technology, that the military is interested in the technology, and that the face-recognition contractor, Identix, has contracts with the US government – for technology that identifies individuals in a crowd.

Read the full article at:

The tinfoil hat brigade are right to be concerned by the idea of a camera that is connected to the internet and potentially recording you. Especially since you just know that there will be something in the TOS that you agree to that lets them use whatever they find however they like.
Posted 21:03 on 29 May 2013


As long as you don't get a delivery van full of Mountain Dew at your door with a driver explaining "your Xbox said you had run out" then I'm ok.

Actually...even that...
Posted 19:43 on 29 May 2013
DancingRhino's Avatar


It's not the companies themselves that worry me. Like Tom said on the podcast, most data would probably only be used for marketing research and wouldn't affect us personally. It's just the technology is there, it's getting more sophisticated and integrated into our lives. And if it's there, what uses and abuses of it could there in the future? New terrorist laws that allow police to spy on "suspects" through their consoles? It doesn't seem that paranoid to have a healthy apprehension.
Posted 18:37 on 29 May 2013
Endless's Avatar


What a refreshing change, some objective reasoning.

I very much doubt whether people have stopped to actually think about the privacy issue at all. But by and by that isnt the issue imo. The bigger picture is that whether people were aware they're tracked by every digital device on the planet anyway or not; The question is: do they not want it on their video game console?

or maybe they were totally oblivious to how Google exists as a business or how advertising and marketing works across the globe and this is just drawing attention to it. We don't want to be followed. I get it. But you're attempting to close the stable door after an entire herd of horses has bolted.

Do we have a right to our voice on the subject? Sure. But lets not single out one company when there are far worse candidates for scrutiny. If people are going to object, then there is a much much bigger issue to address.

But ask yourself this: If Kinect was a deliberate attempt to invade our privacy by recording our conversations and capturing events in our front rooms; Do you really believe that your mobile phone or laptop isn't capable of doing the exact same thing right now? Do you truly know what every piece of software on any device you own with a microphone and camera is doing? It's a slippery slope to the depths of all-consuming paranoia.
Posted 14:52 on 29 May 2013
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