Many people were worried that the Xbox Kinect would be used to spy on people and that the information gleaned from the audio and visual logs would be used against the people who made such comments. Well, it turns out that the voice commands were being monitored by contractors working for Microsoft.
Vice did an article based on statements made to Motherboard, where the contractors told them…
“Xbox commands came up first as a bit of an outlier and then became about half of what we did before becoming most of what we did,” […]
“The Xbox stuff was actually a bit of a welcome respite, honestly. It was frequently the same games. Same DLCs. Same types of commands. ‘Xbox give me all the games for free’ or ‘Xbox download [newest Minecraft skins pack]’ or whatever,” […]
“”Occasionally I heard ‘Xbox, tell Solas to heal,’ or something similar, which would be a command for Dragon Age: Inquisition,”
According to the article, after Microsoft removed Kinect as a standard inclusion with the Xbox One package back in May of 2014, as reported by TechRaptor, and shut down Cortana’s app from the Xbox One back in July of 2019, the contractors say that there were fewer instances of coming across audio from Xbox One users.
One of the contractors explained…
“As time went on, we got less apparently accidental stuff as the feature improved,” […] “Most of the Xbox related stuff I can recall doing was obviously unintentional activations with people telling Cortana ‘No’ as they were obviously in the middle of a game and doing normal game chat,”
This was actually a huge concern for a lot of people way back when the Xbox One was first announced. At the time Kinect 2.0 was mandatory, yet it was conveniently wrapped up in headlines about the Edward Snowden leak, which conveniently included revelations that Kinect was part of government spying protocols.
How convenient that it turns out that people were right that they were being spied on?
“We’ve long been clear that we collect voice data to improve voice-enabled services and that this data is sometimes reviewed by vendors,”
“We’ve recently updated our privacy statement to add greater clarity that people sometimes review this data as part of the product improvement process. We always get customer permission before collecting voice data, we take steps to de-identify voice snippets being reviewed to protect people’s privacy, and we require that handling of this data be held to the highest privacy standards in the law. At the same time, we’re actively working on additional steps we can take to give customers more transparency and more control over how their data is used to improve products.”
In an age where privacy seems to be the thing we control the least, it’s no surprise that privacy was being invaded upon by people who didn’t necessarily want to do it but did so anyway under company orders.
It’s funny how some people who thought that Kinect spying on its users was labeled as a conspiracy theory by some, but it looks like they were right all along.
(Thanks for the news tip alex9234)