dedicatedtogamers (User)

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Xbox One + NSA = nothing. But it'll still hurt Xbox One.

dedicatedtogamers | 823d ago
User blog

For months, the Xbox One has been getting slammed, but now that the DRM has been axed, some of the other details of the system are being brought into the forefront.

Namely, the requirement of the Kinect camera. Of course, it didn't help that the exact same day Microsoft announced their DRM and 24-hour policies on June 7th, another news article broke regarding PRISM, a program conducted by the NSA to mine data. Microsoft was/is a big part of PRISM since its creation in 2007, though Microsoft denied it. Other articles surfaced to remind people that Microsoft got busted for spying on Skype users' conversations, and when people heard that the Xbox One's video chat would be done via Skype, they started to put together the pieces.

A lot of people got scared. Granted, it wasn't too big of a leap of logic. Online-required console + camera-required console + partnership with NSA = spying, right? Although the online requirement has died (well, you do still need to connect it for a one-time patch), the fear remains. Some people are genuinely nervous about their privacy. Other gamers think the fears are silly and unfounded.

First, let's debunk some of the dumber statements being thrown around. One of the most popular ones goes something like this:

"So maybe you should get rid of your smartphone too if you're so afraid of spies. Hurr hurr!"

This is silly. We're comparing a phone - which the majority of people need in their day-to-day lives - with an optional gaming console. If I want a cell phone, I have options. There are dozens of smartphones that don't have a camera (if someone wanted to avoid a camera). On the other hand, I have no option to buy a Kinect-less Xbox One. I have no option of buying an Xbox console made by Samsung or Apple. There is no choice.

Not to mention, it's a bit of a breach of logic to argue "you have a camera on your phone. Therefore you're a hypocrite if you don't want a camera on your videogame console!"

The main issue is that people are buying a product that may spy on them. Privacy is important to a lot of people, and although many of us freely give up that privacy via Skype chats, emails, or Facebook, people still want that illusion of choice. The notion that a camera attached to my game console could be recording data without my knowledge is in a different league compared to my wife voluntarily uploading pictures of my vacation to Shutterfly.

Privacy is important to people, and it extends beyond gaming. There are some people who don't care, there are some people who do care, there are some people who are paranoid, but the vast majority of people get a bit antsy when they know there is someone spying on them. To dismiss these concerns with a casual #dealwithit reeks of arrogance.

Ultimately, while I do find it disturbing that the Xbox One COULD be used to spy on its users, it does not matter because I doubt that it WILL be used to spy on its users in any significant numbers.

The biggest problem is perception.

Yes, Kinect can be turned off, but it's still required. Yes, it's not always listening, except that it IS always listening for you to say "Xbox ON".

The target market for the Xbox One is North America. Most in Europe and Japan have already written it off. And yet, a hot topic in America is the Patriot Act nearing its expiration and whether intruding on privacy is worth it anymore. Even if Xbox One never, ever, ever intrudes on your privacy and sends data to Microsoft or the NSA, the camera is still there, staring at you, watching you. The perception will be that Microsoft is spying on you, even if they aren't. The sentiment that Xbox One will spy on you is all over Youtube, Facebook, and even The Daily Show's Back in Black segment (here: ). Popular conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones (who has several million viewers/subscribers between Youtube and his own website) are already spreading FUD and fear regarding the Xbox One camera. Closer to launch, you can bet your game library that larger news outlets like Fox, CNN, BBC, and ITV will give their own news story, even if that news story is titled with an innocent "Is Xbox One Spying On YOU?"

Perception is the problem. The damage to the PERCEPTION of the Xbox brand will last years. Naysayers are quick to retort "People will forget it. By launch time, no one will remember this stuff". They won't? People still remember the PSN hack. People still remember the RROD. And it doesn't even matter if the perception is false. Once it takes hold, it becomes very difficult to shake. There are people who STILL think the SNES versions of Mortal Kombat don't have blood. There are people who STILL think that E.T is what caused the console market to crash. Perception is powerful.

When a console has bad perception, it creates a snowball effect (I already blogged about how the Xbox One is now the media's new "whipping boy" like the PS3 was back in 2006-2009). You think it's bad NOW? Oh ho ho boy, just you wait. Remember the "OtherOS" debacle? Sony took out OtherOS which affected, at a max, a few thousand users, and look what happened. It led to the PS3 getting hacked and PSN going down for a month. The media had a field day.

Imagine what will happen (and this WILL happen, mark my words) when someone gets their first "Recommendation" or "custom advertisement" on the dashboard. Let's say someone is muching on a bag of Sun Chips and a new ad pops up saying "You like chips? Buy Dorito Fusion and get a free Halo 5 map". Whether it's correct or not, people are going to assume the Xbox One spied on them. And then it will snowball. More people will show more "proof" that the Xbox One is spying (like showing a T-shirt of Big Bang Theory and then screencapping a "TV recommended for you" showing the Big Bang Theory TV show). Microsoft will issue an official statement that says something like "your privacy is important to us. We never use the Xbox One Kinect to spy on your or intrude on your privacy or to collect advertising data", but whether they're being truthful or not won't matter one bit. People will just reply "uh huh. Suuuuuure" and continue posting pictures of their Gundam DVD collection and then screencapping recommendations for Titanfall and Pacific Rim, saying "see? See? Kinect is spying on me!" Perception is quite powerful once it takes hold.

And it will be even worse when bigger news outlets decide to jump on it. The mass media is getting a bit bored ragging on violent videogames. They need a new whipping boy. Oh? What's this? A videogame that SPIES on you? A videogame that can detect your facial expressions, your heartbeat, recognize your voice, count how many people are in the room? My goodness! We have to warn the general public! We have to warn the defenseless single mothers and grade-school children who might be EXPOSED to this travesty! Although these claims are exaggerated, we're talking about the same mass-media that claimed Mass Effect had "full blown uncensored nudity and sex littered throughout the game". This is the same mass-media that calls videogames "murder simulators and training tools for serial killers". You think they won't go a bit overboard describing a camera-required console that can recognize voice commands and your facial features?

You honestly think the mass-media isn't going to jump to wild conclusions regarding a videogame console with a REQUIRED camera? You think it'll all blow over before launch?

If you think it'll all blow over, I have someone for you to meet. His name is "2006 Sony fanboy". Everyone said Giant Enemy Crab and 599 US Dollars would blow over by launch, and the PS3 still sold well, but the perception remained. Everyone said "no gamez" would blow over, and it did eventually, but the "no gamez" reputation lasted for years. People are saying the lopsided online polls, the negative articles, the fan outrage, the bad PR, and the lopsided preorders all will just blow over. Those are some strong winds you're hoping for.

I doubt the NSA will spy on us through the Xbox One, and I don't think proving or disproving it will matter. What matters is perception, and right now the Xbox One has a whole lot of negative perception swirling around it. It makes no difference if Xbox One will really spy on us. What matters is a lot of people THINK it will spy on us, and runaway rumors and unfounded fears are often more dangerous than the truth.

Valenka  +   823d ago
Food for thought for sure. A dash of skepticism and a pinch of paranoia, but definitely substantially valid thoughts. Well written and well orchestrated opinion as always!
FriedGoat  +   822d ago
This is not paranoia.
Microsoft is giving access for the NSA to mine skype data, video calls etc. They already have petabytes of data. You really think they are going to exclude the xbox one? No.

We already know that all this data being collected can be accessed by NSA without any court rulings etc even though Obama stated that they can't (BS as Snowden proved it).

Its most likely too late for the PC side of things, google are in on it and other large corporations.

But not all consoles are, if you value your privacy excuse my french, F*** MS and F*** Xbox one.
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ColdFeet  +   819d ago
PS4 won't be exempt from NSA prying. The vita has skype built in . The providers that are said to report for PRISM are Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, facebook, paltalk, youtube, skype, aol, apple. Regardless there's little doubt in my mind that the government has been doing this far longer than most people think and you might as well assume that anything on the internet is fair game to mass data collection.
FriedGoat  +   819d ago
Skype is not built into the vita at all, its a seperate download. If you've noticed, all those companies you are referring to are American. I doubt a japanese company is going to be in on it. But yeah, the rest of the stuff is probably right.
KingOfArcadia  +   817d ago
My, paranoid much? Do you really think that the NSA has enough manpower to watch/listen to all the information they gather? Of course not. In the same way, they aren't going to start mining Kinect data so they can watch me gaming in my underwear in front of my big screen. Could they? Possibly. Would I care? Hardly.
FriedGoat  +   816d ago
Arcadia, Its not paranoia if it's true.....
I'm not saying they will go through absolutely all the data, i'm saying they have ACCESS TO IT. It's people like you that don't deserve freedom, go live in your dictatorship.
WeMilk   822d ago | Spam
dantesparda  +   818d ago
MS-NSA Collaboration
SilentNegotiator  +   823d ago
All it would take is one government suit to request data from someone's Xbox One (Because you googled "bomb" for some clip art), and Microsoft would deliver it with bells on. That's EXACTLY how the PRISM thing has worked the last few years; ANY data that they request that is or can be recovered.
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FriedGoat  +   822d ago
I'm not sure if you've properly looked this up. PRISM isn't about picking individuals out. PRISM is about mining ALL of the data.They aren't saying "oh this guy looks suspicious, lets get his data!" They are collecting everyones data, all the time.

They have all kinds of tech installed by telecom companies that tap the fibre optic networks, these have been installed since as far back as 2008.

They aren't looking for "terrorists", you're more likely to be killed by a cop than be hit by a terrorist attack. These aren't conspiracy theories either, you can look this stuff up.

What pisses me off the most, is that 850,000 NSA employees can just freely look at emails to my loved ones or anything. It's not a case of following proceedings, all it takes is one NSA employee to get bored, "oh I wonder what this person has been doing"
Screw em all.
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thorstein  +   822d ago
Fried, if you really are interested. Look into what Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is doing with public schools and their "data."

Worse yet, look at what they are trying to do to public education in general. It is sickening!
PopRocks359  +   823d ago

Thought I'd throw this link your way. Honestly, I think you're on the ball on this topic, but Microsoft certainly is not doing itself any favors if a report like this turns out to be true. Frankly I don't think anyone will care either way.

EDIT: Copy/pasted the incorrect link at first. My bad lol.
#3 (Edited 823d ago ) | Agree(5) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
Darrius Cole  +   823d ago
Spies don't tell you that they are spying on you.
mrmarx  +   823d ago
well with xbox you pay them 60 dollars a year to spy on you lol thats even worse
MysticStrummer  +   823d ago
James Bond almost never uses an alias. He's a well known agent but nearly always uses his real name when introducing himself to the villain. Clearly, this translates to the real world and authentic espionage techniques.
RiPPn  +   822d ago
The spies didn't tell us, the whistleblower did, which is why the spies want his head now.
stuna1  +   823d ago
We live in a era where technology is taking leaps and bounds, so it stands to reason that that same technology can be used for good or ill! Many don't have to look far to realize this is factual, take the manhattan project for example! The devastation that project brought about was incredible, but one has to ask the question is it because of the this weapon was used that other countries felt that they had to develop their own weapon in response!?

What I'm trying to say is mankind has a propensity to delve into the positive aspects of things to make situation better, but mankind also lets curiosity have free reign at investigating and experimenting with the negative aspects of that same situation.

A question I would ask if given the chance to some the company bigwigs is, how many of them are willing to sacrifice their own privacy and that of their own families, to have the same product that they are trying to push to the consumers sitting in their own home. I think in retrospect many wouldn't even consider it.

The reason people trying things like this is mainly because when someone actually does speak out against it, many know if it's not the popular opinion that there will always be someone out there to try to discredit the unpopular belief! And the sad thing about it is, that person could be 100% correct.

I have been on this planet long enough to know everything cannot be taken at face value, and that there is nothing wrong with being skeptical about any situation.
Games4M - Rob  +   823d ago
I kinda confused ny the SNES mortal Kombat blood thing you mention. The version i played definitely did not have blood, not only that but the animations on the fatalities where changed to be a lot tamer than the arcade or Sega version.
edonus   823d ago | Spam
NYC_Gamer  +   823d ago
There is no such thing as privacy in this modern world of everything being connected...The NSA/FBI/CIA have been doing this tactics for many years already and people are surprised because the info is just now leaking public..Do people really believe this type of spying just happened?major companies have been handing over files to Government agencies this goes way beyond gaming machines....The only way to stop being watched/info handed over is to go completely off the grid..But how many of us can really afford to live that way?None of this shocks me because already knew citizens data were being passed along to this agencies long time ago..
#8 (Edited 823d ago ) | Agree(2) | Disagree(2) | Report | Reply
SilentNegotiator  +   822d ago
What's your point? That doesn't make it any less of a big deal. Yes, people become angry about things when they're specifically told about them happening with proof that they happened...and?

Everyone knows that intelligence agencies go to creepy lengths for data. That doesn't mean anyone knew that a secret operation was being carried out under their noses and companies like Microsoft was giving the government access to ANYTHING without even remotely mentioning that to the public.
NYC_Gamer  +   822d ago
That's why people shouldn't believe everything they are fed..This move to cloud is just going to lead to more data being shared/easier..There's no privacy in a connected world..I don't expect any company to come out and admit they are sharing customers data with agencies like NSA/FBI/CIA..I don't believe its acceptable but these actions have been going on for many years and people are just now waking up to the reality of it.
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MeatAbstract  +   822d ago
I skimmed through this so my comment probably won't be valid. Just my thoughts on what I saw.

Interesting stuff all this spying talk that's gone on a lot lately. I do find Orwellian stuff to be quite fascinating and Panopticon Theory to be quite valid today.

Essentially though, anyone that panic's and believes their console is spying on them are idiots. Thanks to the glory of smartphones and social networks, if you ever needed to gather surveillance on someone it would cost someone about $500 to do where at one time, it would of cost hundreds of thousands to spy on a single person. And the people that panic and say 'OMGZ MY CONSOLE IS SPYING ON ME' are probably the same people that update their facebook and twitter every five minutes detailing their lives with what they are doing at hat very moment.

I listened to a great interview with a guy on the radio, he worked in security. They basically tasked this guy with finding out as much information about the next caller having only their name. An hour later, they call back and he knows their address, phone number, husband, family, where they work, where they often eat etc. He found this out pretty much through facebook and twitter.

Is this wrong? It certainly is but as we become more and more connected to global networks, you must accept that nothing you ever do will be 'private and confidential'. So yes, google knows everything you search for and your ISP knows all the porn you watch.

And as for the Xbox One. Love it, hate it, it'll sell regardless. I'm seeing stuff that you can't pre-order it some places etc. While an interesting read, it still has that 'Pro Sony, Bash Microsoft' vibe going for it.
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WeMilk   822d ago | Spam
iliimaster  +   822d ago
so we trust microsoft that that next gen cam tell if im sad ? will not have a live feed of my living room? sure okay skype who is owned by ms was accused of doing just that but for xbox it wont? it always has to be plugged in but you can "turn it off" so why can't i just unplug it what is the difference ?
#10 (Edited 822d ago ) | Agree(2) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
sAVAge_bEaST  +   822d ago
exactly,.. why the F*@#, . can;t we just unplug the damn thing...
Mac420  +   821d ago
Half the kids arguing " We live in a always connected world , Facebook blah blah blah" Problem with all your arguments is none of those other devices, apps, or programs can track you or do any type of spying or data collecting until you. Power them on, place calls, initiate a video chat etc etc etc. The One on the other hand before the big policy change was a window into anybody's home , Always connected, Always on console . So most of those points are invalid because you could easily live " in the grid" an not have tons of personal data an information out there. Just don't see why anybody would even want to put this type of device into there house just down right stupid if you don't think there collecting video data from it. People with that type of mentality are the same people that praise the Patriot Act. Just more uninformed idiots why America is in the state it's in now.
MeatAbstract  +   821d ago
Stopped at 'Half the kids...' because anyone that disagrees is a child, right?
jackdaddy  +   818d ago
All food for thought. Unfortunately i still don't see or have any desire for an xbone.
I guess it's a 'north of Mexico' thing.
IraqCombatVet  +   817d ago
Interesting read. Great job on the article.

"There are dozens of smartphones that don't have a camera (if someone wanted to avoid a camera). On the other hand, I have no option to buy a Kinect-less Xbox One. I have no option of buying an Xbox console made by Samsung or Apple. There is no choice."

I have to disagree. First of all, you don't need a cell phone. You need water, you need food, you need air. People lived without cell phones before they were invented. Secondly, you have the choice of not buying a Xbox One. There are many other options for playing games just like you said there are different choices for smartphones. If someone doesn't like what Microsoft is doing, don't buy it. It all comes down to people not having the willpower to not choose Xbox One. Some people complain about the Xbox One but still will buy it because they act like they have no other choice. Is it fair what Microsoft has done to its customers? No. Should the console be more gamer-friendly? Yes. But the choice to buy a console with the requirement of having a camera attached that could possibly spy on you is completely up to the gamer. If you buy it fully knowing what you're getting, don't' complain. Or you can buy a different system to play games on and have a wait and see attitude about this whole messed up situation with the Xbox One.

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