Microsoft must address privacy, security concerns of Xbox One

Since the announcement of the new Xbox One console late last month, there have been many consumers and industry experts worried about the data security and privacy of the system. The main issue has been the motion sensor camera Kinect, which must be attached in order for the device to work, as many take issue with the fact that it is still not know what kind of data this will record, if any. A Microsoft official told Kotaku that the machine will not always be watching and listening and can be completely switched off.

"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," a representative for the company told Kotaku. "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. We'll share more details later."

Thus far, the privacy and security details have not been shared, so users and security experts alike will be left to guess how safe this machine will be for those who want a larger level of privacy with their video gaming.

Microsoft must answer privacy concerns
Venturebeat community writer Ethan Gach said the Xbox One prompts several questions that users will need to ask prior to purchase. This is the first time a company will essentially have a camera and microphone into user's homes, something that may put many off if their concerns are not addressed. This is something that will likely be an issue with other technology of this ilk, Gach said, as Nintendo and Valve have also discussed implementing technology like this in the future.

The first question Gach said users must ask is what the machine can record while it is on.

"Yes, Microsoft has confirmed that the new console can be turned off. Unfortunately, that tells us nothing about what the console will be capable of recording through the Kinect during the rest of the time," he said, echoing the concerns of many who know the tribulations big data can bring if not properly protected. "Will there be a settings menu where users can go to decide precisely which parts of the Kinect's functionality will be left on at any given moment? Will it be possible to use the device's sound and movement capabilities without that information being 'live' and accessible by Microsoft?"

Microsoft cannot claim there will simply be adjustable privacy settings, as Gach said it is too fresh in the minds of users that devices like iPhone was storing a lot of user data unbeknownst to those who own the device. Users must know what kind of information will be collected about them and what it will be use for, as depending on the data, the company has a lot to gain and its customers have a lot to lose.

Other questions Gach had included:
- Is information linked to specific Xbox One accounts or will it be incorporated into broader Microsoft profiles? Microsoft accounts?
- What will the privacy setting defaults be? How can they be altered?
- Will privacy and lawsuits be affected due to to Xbox One's terms of service?

"If data gathered by the Kinect, both visual and aural, must be on some level shared as part of the Xbox One's terms of use, Microsoft should let potential customers know that ahead of time rather than waiting as long as possible to do so," he wrote on Venturebeat. "Furthermore, if terms of use dictate that customer complaints regarding privacy must be solved through binding arbitration via Microsoft …, then the company should likewise also disclose that in the weeks and months before launch."

Users obviously want to own a device like this for the purpose of fun and games, but data security worries could bring that for a halt to many in an increasingly safety-conscious cyber world.

Consumerization News from by Trend Micro

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