A proposed bill could force Microsoft to give users more options on how it uses data gathered with Kinect.
Whereas the Kinect has largely been an add-on to the Xbox 360, Microsoft has made no bones about the Xbox One integrating its version of the motion control hardware in big and significant ways. The console’s heavy reliance on Kinect, which will watch and listen to users at all times while active, could prove problematic however, if currently proposed legislation finds traction in Washington.
The We Are Watching You Act, proposed by representatives Michael Capuano (D-MA) and Walter Jones (R-NC) would place restrictions on technology that monitors and records the data of American citizens. If the bill were to pass, hardware like the Kinect would be required to provide users with an opt-in message and a warning whenever it began recording data. Microsoft would also be required to inform users on how data is being collected and who could potentially see it. If a user were to make the choice to opt out of being monitored, Microsoft would need to offer identical Kinect services to accommodate said user’s privacy.
“[This technology] would essentially observe consumers as they watch television as a way to super-target ads. It is an incredible invasion of privacy,” said a press release on the bill. “Think about how you would feel sharing that information with your cable company, their advertisers and your government.” While Microsoft has confirmed that Xbox One’s Kinect can be turned off, the passage of this legislation would probably still throw a few wrenches into Microsoft’s plans for increased Kinect integration. Even if the changes made weren’t dramatic, we somehow get the feeling a mandatory, on-screen “we are watching you” warning message probably wouldn’t do much for the Xbox One’s arguable image problem.