Daily Updates

Published on August 2nd, 2013 | by gareth

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Xbox One: Is Big Brother Watching You For a Decade?

Microsoft recently announced that their upcoming console the Xbox One would have an always on feature that would last for ten years. My first reaction was skeptical as for a company that has been plagued by the Red Ring of Death issues, the idea that they could make a system that would last ten years to me was wishful thinking.

That being said, we recently ran an article asking if Microsoft had undone much of the negativity surrounding the console after their numerous p.r. blunders during the early reveals of the system. I do have to wonder if this latest announcement is yet another step in the wrong direction for the company.

 

I was very happy to hear that they were removing the controversial D.R.M. feature of the system and other controversial features, but what I am still waiting to hear from the company is a promise that they will not be restored at a later date. It would be very easy to do a bait and switch on this and restore the features after a few million units had been shipped and customers have little choice but to deal with it.

For me the biggest issue is not about games, system power, or even features, for me it is data collection and the storing of information. To be more specific, Who, what, and why? Who is seeing the data, what is being recorded, and why is this being done?

The Kinect camera can reportedly be turned on remotely and record at any time and the system being always on and connected can essentially can record and share a lot of information over the next decade. Microsoft claims the camera will not record info and is simply listening for verbal commands such as being instructed to turn itself on. That being said, it still can be used to observe and record if it is so desired.

People say to me if you’re not doing anything wrong, then what is the big deal. My answer to that is simple, I want to know, what is being recorded, why, and who is getting this data.

Since the new system integrates tv, movies, web, and gaming, a person’s entertainment habits are being captured and stored. So if Microsoft wants to know things like when we are most likely to watch a movie, what type of movie, and so on to offer us better options in the future then why are they not saying so? The same goes with web browsing, tv shows, and gaming. Every aspect of your entertainment choices for a decade are being monitored and recorded. This sounds a lot like Big Brother from the George Orwell classic 1984.

Think about this. If it is simply to record behavior and offer more consumer choices, then why are consumers not given the option to opt out of this feature?

I had a person tell me recently that they only record and store data for a short time. My response was that the fact that they were recording, storing, and sharing my data at all was a huge issue for me.

I want to know why Microsoft is doing this, who the data will be shared with, and why I need to consent to have every aspect of my life surrounding the Xbox One cataloged.

I know many will say this is simple paranoia or Microsoft bashing but I think it is far from it. Think of it this way, the census is taken every decade in order to capture economic, social, and population data in the country. This is done via mailings, telephone and door to door surveys.

It is a highly effective way of gathering data that the government uses for policy implementation and resource allocation. If there is nothing to hide then why does Microsoft not come out on record and say what is being recorded, why and who will have access to it?

Here are two articles you may want to look at in relation to this.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/11/microsoft-nsa-collaboration-user-data

and to a lesser extent.

https://arstechnica.com/security/2013/06/nsa-gets-early-access-to-zero-day-data-from-microsoft-others/

 

Now there will be a system that over a decade will note every game you play, every show you watch, every movie and website you access over it, and can turn a camera on and record anything in range anytime it wants to.

To me as a consumer, I think I have a right to know why this data is being collected and who will have access to it.

You can check out our June magazine and our coverage of the E3 Expo and a report on the Xbox one below.
SKNR Cover Jun2013

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About the Author

Syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. His work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site and publication “Skewed and Reviewed”. He has three books of film, game reviews and interviews published and is a well-received and in demand speaker on the convention circuit. Gareth has appeared in movies and is a regular guest on a top-rated Seattle morning show. He has also appeared briefly in films such as “Prefountaine”, “Postal”. “Far Cry”. and others. Gareth is also an in-demand speaker at several conventions and has conducted popular panels for over two decades.



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