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Is the Xbox One with Kinect an NSA infiltration tool?

Many questions have surrounded the new Xbox One, the “draconian” always online DRM requirement (now reversed) and the requirement of the Kinect connected to the system in order for it to function.

What initially started out as a conspiracy theory has been given a bit of credence by the revelation that the company has admitted to cooperation with US government officials in handing over user data (including access to Skype, email, instant messaging info, etc). Whether or not Xbox Live data was handed over was not revealed, however one must surmise that this too is covered under the Patriot Act and its wide and deep reaching arms.

The question on many gamers’ minds is whether or not the Kinect 2.0 will make the Xbox One a government spy box. I think more importantly……..does it matter and if so, how much? Also, does this make buying a PS4 the automatically superior choice?

To get a bit of clarity, let’s go back and take a look at the digital lives I’m quite sure most gamers live and the lives of non gamers as well.

When cell phones were introduced at an affordable rate to the general public, most of us were not thinking of government surveillance as we do today since the convenience of wireless talking gave us a “freedom” we never had before. Followed quickly by 2 way (now text messaging), we were reaching methods of communication that we had never dreamed. Slowly but surely, our cell phones and computers grew more technologically advanced with every laptop requiring a camera built in and on cell phones as well, we were already starting to embrace all the surveillance tools the government needed to keep tabs on us. Combined with the introduction of various email services, online shopping, social networking (most notably; MySpace, Facebook & Twitter) and the introduction of the iPhone, had fully entered the digital revolution by 2007.

What’s more important is that the majority of us did so gladly, offering up scores of information about our personal lives, our habits, our associations and more. We have unwittingly handed over the keys to our privacy in exchange for amazing convenience and wonderment as technology continues to advance, particularly at a much faster rate than laws can be written and rewritten.

Now getting back to gamers, most of us are driven by new technology. At heart, we love new tech toys and can’t wait to get our hands on them. With Kinect 2.0 being a requirement and having the ability to see an entire room and awaiting verbal commands from the user as well as possibly being able to read your heart rate, does this device offer much more insight into our lives than the government already has access to?

As a passionate gamer, I honestly don’t think so. Most of us have access to just about all of the technology (if not more) that I mentioned previously and we don’t/can’t do much or nothing at all to maintain our privacy. We keep our cell phones within feet or even inches of us at all times. We use our cell phones to take pictures of just about any and everything, capturing the most private of moments, knowing that most likely, we have chosen the option for those pictures to automatically save to “the cloud” for convenience. Cell phones listen for cues at the push of a button all the time ala Siri, Google Now and Microsoft’s Tell Me.

Now with the rumored capability of Google’s new Moto X phone, it will work just like Kinect, waiting for a verbal command (no button needed) to activate and do whatever you ask. Will this feature receive similar backlash like Kinect 2.0 or will it be celebrated as revolutionary? Remember, this device will be with you more often than your game console could ever hope to be.

Moto X

I have read complaints and arguments from many gamers about how the new Xbox One is NSA approved but isn’t just about every piece of technology we access approved or even recommended by government agencies? The Kinect 2.0 will allow gamers to do many amazing things (in game has yet to be proven) and will eventually become a form of tech that most of us lean on for convenience. Just as we could not imagine the “necessity” of all the conveniences we love today, in a few years, we won’t be able to imagine our lives without some of the home automation features that are possible with voice command for household electronics and appliances.

As a passionate video game lover, I own a Wii, Xbox 360 and a PS3. So far I’m holding off on Wii U (until I see better support and a lower price tag) but I’ve pre-ordered both the Xbox One and PS4 on the same day. I may have a preference for one system over the other but I honestly believe they both have their strengths and weaknesses and what it boils down to for me is the games, the UI & ease of use and overall system capabilities. Kinect 2.0 will be a nice addition to my home theater setup.

So, are you as a gamer as concerned about your privacy as has been reported by many? Do you think the PS4 will be a more privacy cautious console system? If you are steering clear of Xbox One mainly because of the Kinect 2.0 requirement or for any reason at all, we’d like to know your reasons so please comment below.

CCU wants to hear from you.

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  1. Do I think every Kinect camera has an NSA employee monitoring it 24 hours a day? Of course not. But if the NSA wants to watch someone for whatever reason and they have a xbox one does anyone trust Microsoft to protect their customer’s privacy? Not a chance. They have already proven this several times.

    And if you’re one of those drones who right now is about to type “but if I’ve done nothing wrong then I have nothing to hide.” If it can happen to someone else it can happen to you.

    • But how is watching you through a game system easier or better than through ur tablet or cell phone or laptop? I think that’s wht this post was about. And wht company will say no to a fully enforced court ordered subpoena? That goes for all tech companies. The only difference between MS and Sony in this regard is that MS is more than 10x larger and has more info and services that the government wants to tap. Apple, Google, MS and Facebook were only top mentions because of their size and the amount of data they have on people. Sony is a much smaller fish but they are under the same obligation to government mandates if necessary. Dislike or disdain for a company shouldn’t make a person view facts in such a skewed manner. But people will call it opinion and say they’re entitled to their own. Stick to the facts; they aren’t and can’t be opinions.

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