May 30, 2013

Do you have privacy concerns over the new Kinect?

First off, let me be upfront and say I really don’t. At the same time, I’ve read a number of articles and posts where people are concerned that the Kinect on the XBox One will basically let Microsoft spy on them in their living rooms. When I was a kid, one of the things that freaked me out was the idea that if I could see the people on TV, maybe they could see me. I used to change into my pajamas behind the couch - you, know, just in case. I’m not a kid any longer and it takes a little more to send me behind my couch, but are there any legitimate concerns about privacy related to the Kinect?

Nope, I have no interest in buying the product at all. I suspect there are plenty of others who feel the same way.

Apparently, it can be turned off though. So that should alleviate some fears.


"The state of confusion around the new Xbox One console is such that we're delighted to bring you the news that Microsoft's next console has a power button. What's more: its watchful new Kinect sensor that must be plugged in for the console to run can be turned off.

Oh brother, big brother! Maybe this new Xbox won't be spying on everyone after all.

"It is not always watching or always listening," a spokesperson for Microsoft told me over e-mail while I was trying to nail down some facts for a story about next-gen consoles that ran in yesterday's New York Times.

In the Times article, I reported that Microsoft says the Kinect can be turned off. The entire console can be powered down. This might seem obvious to anyone familiar with how consumer electronics work, but... let's face facts...the Xbox One has seemed, for the past week, to be a tad different than the average piece of consumer electronics."


Not any more than general concerns about any company that has access to my video chat, on-line activity, gaming and video viewing habits, etc. Well, now that I put it like that maybe I should be more concerned. Really, I think a lot of people's hand-wringing crosses the line into paranoia. Are they equally freaked out about the webcam on their laptop, or the forward facing camera on their smartphone/tablet? I don’t see how the Kinect is any more of a cause for concern than those. Well, unless I’m playing a stupid dance game. I play those with the curtains closed for a reason - does not look cool!  

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