When Christmas rolls around and the birthdays of little kids, video game consoles are one of the most requested gifts for the occasion. An interest in beating the next level, creating customized characters, and playing with opponents located halfway around the world is not only a favorite pastime of the younger generation, but is also all the rage with adults. However, the new Xbox One has created quite the buzz and has many asking “is this gaming console just a monitoring device in disguise?’
There’s something a little eerie about a gaming console that despite not having players working the controls or having the ‘off’ button pressed will continue to conduct monitoring activities. The latest console added to the Xbox brand is called Xbox One, and it will do just that ”“ act as a 24/7 surveillance device. Bundled with the Kinect, which has the capability to detect sound and motion, every console will have a camera and microphone that will constantly be ‘on’ as default.
To make matters worse, you won’t even be able to work the Xbox One unless it is hooked up to the Kinect. The camera will even continue to work when all the lights are turned off, and you’re sitting in complete darkness ”“ spending its time reading facial expressions, and keeping tabs on how many people are in a room. One of the latest features of the console is the ability for players to say ‘Xbox on,’ and have their console automatically turn on. This is the reasoning behind the device needing to have the ability to listen to every single thing that is said around the console.
Since the Xbox One requires an Internet connection in order to work, the data that the device collects certainly has the potential to fall into the wrong hands or be used for anything under the sun. Users of the game console really have no way of knowing what is collected and where it ends up. The brand definitely crosses a line with privacy concerns, as the console can listen and watch everything that a person does. Some would like to have the ability to be able to turn off the camera or microphone even if it interferes with the functions of the console.
Even if Xbox One gives users the option to turn off the camera and microphone related to the console, there is still the potential for hackers and outside organizations (such as the government) to find a way to remotely override the system. Internet-connected devices are always vulnerable to being hacked or infiltrated.
The functions of Xbox One actually falls in line with the definition of a surveillance device in Australia. Some people already have concerns about the possibility of outsiders remotely accessing their device or a hacker intercepting their personal information. The console can become a spying device at the drop of a dime, and enthusiastic gamers may not understand (or care) about the implications of such a product.
The federal data protection commissioner of Berlin, Peter Schaar, has already deemed the Xbox One as “nothing more than a monitoring device under the guise of a gaming console.”
How will consumers react to this information? Only time will tell, but there is no doubt that parents across America will overlook the details and oblige their children’s wishes by outfitting their homes with the latest gaming options.