Microsoft Reverses Itself on Xbox One Camera Requirement Because of NSA Spying Revelations

what could the nsa want to use the kinect to peek in on?Illusive Photography/Foter.comWhen it was first announced, Microsoft’s Xbox One yielded a fair amount of privacy concerns over requiring its Kinect camera system to be always-on, this before the latest revelations about the NSA showed just how cooperative Microsoft and companies like it have been in the government’s efforts to collect data. Even then, the more important issue was government snooping and not the new consumer technologies the government would try to use for its collection purposes; as Peter Suderman noted, “communications technology is always going to present opportunities for worrisome government snooping.”

The shutdown of two email providers over their unwillingness to comply with government data requests shows how difficult it is for companies to prevent privacy breaches even when they want to—the two email companies are prohibited from speaking out about what it was the government wanted from them, just as Microsoft and the other companies involved in the NSA’s Prism program are. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, then, that Microsoft has finally dropped the requirement that the camera be connected for the Xbox One to work. Microsoft had previously dropped requirements that would prevent offline gameplay and make the sale of used games more difficult in response to pressure from potential customers. Microsoft’s most recent about-face illustrates why President Obama and other national security state enthusiasts have been so upset about the disclosures that revealed the level of the NSA’s snooping. The companies involved rely on a level of trust from their consumers, one that’s blatantly betrayed in the context of the NSA’s massive data collection programs. Microsoft and other companies have sought permission from the government to disclose more specifically the nature of the government’s demands in an apparent bid to illustrate that the data sharing is not voluntary. Dropping the Xbox One’s Kinect requirement is an attempt to win back customers spooked not by the new technologies but by the way the government demands they be repurposed to serve its own snooping.

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  • CE||

    I need to work for the NSA.

  • General Butt Naked||

    I think most of the people using an XBox are teenage boys.

    Ewwww.

  • Almanian!||

    CE's a Catholic priest, so....makes sense.

  • CE||

    Oh, I was hoping they looked like the girl in the picture.

  • NeonCat||

    Cosplay is so played out, hardcore transvestism is the hot new thing.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Microsoft and other companies have sought permission from the government to disclose more specifically the nature of the government’s demands in an apparent bid to illustrate that the data sharing is not voluntary.

    Privacy-minded consumers aren't going to care if it was voluntary or if some cursory resistance was given, only that their data isn't safe with this entity.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Privacy-minded consumers aren't going to care if it was voluntary or if some cursory resistance was given, only that their data isn't safe with this entity.

    Agreed. But the big problem is that your data isn't safe with any entity because government insists that it has a right to it.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Foreign-based organizations are your best bet if you want to keep things from President Dad. (Best, but not perfect.)

  • anon||

    Hah! As if I'd ever have a video capture device in my home that was connected to the internet.

  • ||

    Actually, that could be useful in the event of a visit by our friendly boys in blue. Immediate upload to the internet defeats the purpose of them destroying equipment or "losing" it in evidence lockers.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Red meat for the Commentariat and Eye Candy? Suderman, well done sir.

  • ||

    It wasn't Suder-Man, it was Ed. Credit where credit is due. But I agree with you anyway.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Thanks!

    Alright, so is the girl suffering from a wardrobe malfunction or is that just a shadow?

  • ||

    Does it actually matter?

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    YES EPI IT MATTERS A GREAT DEAL

  • ||

    There is no truth, only nipple.

  • jesse.in.mb||

    You didn't find fuzzy elbows hot on scrambled SPICE back in the '90s? It only matters what you believe it is.

  • The DerpRider||

    My eyes want me to believe, but my brain says shadow.

  • Sam Grove||

    Shadow.

  • General Butt Naked||

    She's aaaiight, but no lobster girl. Aiiight though.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    As with most women, it's about presentation. this young female is presented very well.

  • General Butt Naked||

    It's right there in my commenter bio page:

    Turn Offs: HEADSETS

    Gawd, can't you people read.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I don't agree with the use of sex to sell a product. Unless that product is sex.

  • Brett L||

    I'm going to run fuzzed up lab scenes of Breaking Bad in front of my Kinect now. And maybe the first part of Iron Man on a loop.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    I have it on good authority that companies don't care what consumers want.

  • Almanian!||

    That's how Henry Ford got rich. That's the GE model, too. Wait, that IS the GE model these days....never mind.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Threadjack

    Swiss clerk says Oprah's traumatic event never happened and Oprah's backpedalling.

    http://xfinity.comcast.net/blo.....ism-story/

    Ths story sounded like pure bullshit to me from the get go, primarily because Oprah travels with an entourage, the idea that anyone would not think her a VIP with that entourage or that she was travelling incognito is laughable.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    The fact that Oprah has a movie that (contain your shock) deals with racism coming out makes me suspicious of this whole thing.

    Serious question: has Oprah ever been in a movie that was NOT about racism?

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    I like how she's being magnanimous in her soft-pedaling. This is how I "apologize" as well:

    http://movies.yahoo.com/news/o.....23697.html

  • Almanian!||

    The Color Purple wasn't about race, right? It was about, you know, relationships and shit. Coulda been a bunch of Saudis - same movie.

    Right? No??

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Alice Walker was once a lesbian with Tracy Chapman.

    Ponder that on the Tree of Woe.

  • Almanian!||

    *retreats slowly from NK with a look of horror on face*

  • Mike M.||

    I agree that it's likely that her recent behavior is all about drumming up attention for the movie.

    I hope so, because the alternative is that she's losing her mind.

  • ||

    Cant be both?

  • ||

    So is Comcast having a blog and linking to it a thing now?

  • The DerpRider||

    Obscure linking is replacing baseball in the next olympics.

  • Hugh Akston||

    You kinda buried the lede, Ed. I'll let it slide this time because of the image and the alt-text.

  • Almanian!||

    Thanks a lot, Ed.

    I continue to marvel that the government is able to get away with "you can't talk about this because...something!" But I guess, "Fuck you, that's why!"

    I'm afraid I'd be too much of a pussy to take that on if I were ever in a position to be subject to such a rule (I won't say "law") - too much to lose, not enough to gain. Ah well...

  • Almanian!||

    Oh, PS - BOOBS! YES!

  • GroundTruth||

    Microsoft's first decent act!

  • Calidissident||

    Nice picture, I mean article

  • Almanian!||

    I visit reason.com for the alt text

  • Auric Demonocles||

    I certainly do.

  • The DerpRider||

    Real men play PC games. Consoles are for window lickers.

  • R C Dean||

    Sorry. The rollout on this XBox got it on my permanent blacklist. Backpedaling doesn't get you off the permanent blacklist.

    Sale lost, you stupid, soulless fuckers.

  • ||

    So the thing is...I really don't care if my data is snooped on. I have nothing to hide. If I wanted it to truly be hidden, I'd hide it.

    But that's not the point...and I think this gets lost. It's not about snooping. It's not even about abuse of the collected data. It's a well meaning bureaucrats disrupting your life, sometimes severely, on the basis of false conclusions using patchy data.

    Culturally, we don't tolerate government abuse. But exercises of well meaning government power that end badly usually result in...nothing. No punishment. No policy changes. Just a shrug. That's my real concern.

    Of course, constructing an environment that enables abuse is also bad. And a culture of secrecy is even worse. But I still tend to think those are secondary to "good" government fuckups.

  • Matrix||

    You have plenty to hide. you just don't know it. Government agents aren't very trustworthy. Some of them can use your PII or leak it to hurt your credit rating. Also, certain bits of information that is not illegal but could open you up to scorn and ridicule would make you an easy target for blackmail

  • Rasilio||

    For example, go see the thread on CPS kidnapping kids

  • DenverJay||

    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - Copy to Clipboard
    -- C.S. Lewis

  • A Serious Man||

    I'm just here to look at the naked Asian girl.

  • kinnath||

    not naked enough

  • anon||

    It's a pretty good amount of naked, though more nipple would be ok with me.

  • RightNut||

    Fullsize

    Your welcome.

  • A Serious Man||

    True. If I wanted to see mostly naked Asian girls I would go downstairs to the pool.

  • ||

    How long before the feds force MS to put the Kinect cams back on? Force them to install hidden cams and mics?

    Who said earlier that they feared that the tin-foil hat crowd may have been right all along? Starting to feel that way myself.

  • Pro Libertate||

    If they do force them to and make it clear that it's a violation of secret national security protocols to reveal this information to the public, how will we know? In fact, how do we know they aren't forcing MS to lie about it right now?

  • Rasilio||

    Well we'd know that they forced it because the Xbox would no longer work without an attached Kinect.

    We'd probably never know that they were always on because it would probably be done in a backdoor way, say a software switch that leaves in on and recording but not responding to commands until the user "turns it on"

  • Pro Libertate||

    I read some book with TVs that were always on. Some kind of interactive TV.

  • Rasilio||

    There never was any such book, now please report to the nearest reeducation camp so that these false memories can be purged from your brain.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I am not a number! I am a free man!

  • ||

    What makes you think they don't already have the capacity to auto-enable the webcam on your laptop?

    I mean, they can listen to cell phones while they are turned off, so ...

  • Rasilio||

    I gotta say, I will let them have an always on kinnect camera/mic in my house if I get one of those with the xbox

  • creech||

    Speaking of security, how easy is it for agents of the government to put, say, child porn on someone's computer? The last three or four accused guys that made the local papers all said "It isn't mine; I don't know how it got there." Should someone, say a Libertarian Party candidate, be concerned about this???

  • Rasilio||

    Unless they are fairly paranoid about security trivially easy.

    Even if they are fairly paranoid about security it is trivial for them to plant spoofed IP requests into a honeypot Child Porn server and use that as basis for a warrant to seize those computers and plant any evidence they want on the drives, or plant a "hidden" thumb drive full of child porn in the home while they are "searching" it.

    How do you prove that said thumb drive isn't yours?

  • Calion||

    Silent Circle did not receive an order from the government; they shut down proactively. The article above is in error.

  • ||

    Is anyone else seeing nipple?

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