Escapist News Now: Sony Can Monitor All PSN Activity

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Sony Can Monitor All PSN Activity

Days away from the launch of the PS4, Sony is making some not so subtle changes to their software usage terms.

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Well, nothing currently prohibits them from setting such policies, and EULAs like this have never been properly challenged in the right ways. Unless action is taken and laws passed by politicians to protect consumers from these kinds of forced agreements, there is no reason for the gaming and communications industries not to act like this and grab as much power as they can.

To be honest I think it's only a matter of time until some serious scandals start. With the fad for motion controllers and connected cameras and such, it strikes me as being an inevitable extension of these policies that Sony or other console manufacturers will argue they have effectively given themselves the right to any data gathered by the machine's sensors, including what is seen through or remotely recorded by them through the camera. Given that these machines are always on and connected and could be remotely accessed, I imagine it will take corporate snooping to a whole new level. Eventually we'll probably see a case or two where a company like Sony uses collected data to decide who to snoop on via the cameras looking for salable information and data. Not to mention the fun that will arise when Sony employees are inevitably caught peeping and recording young children who have game machines set up in their bed rooms.

To some the above paragraph will probably come across as a paranoid non-sequitor, and I guess it is to an extent, since I'm making predictions based on the direction things are going on. Oddly though I'm usually right, and probably within 5 years we'll see a cases eerily like the ones I'm describing above... with the important caveat that unlike normal cyber stalking cases the companies will use the agreements to defend themselves as having the right to gather this data and shield themselves from legal prosecution and/or civil suits, even if they wind up throwing the people caught actually doing it under the bus for PR purposes and damage control (there is however not much financial compensation to be gained from a fired employee, and those guys going to jail doesn't actually cost the company anything).

Streaming capabilities and video recording for web uploads. No, this does not concern me much. I'm sure it's in place for these features so in case anything illegal or questionable should take place, sony can have evidence that it happened and take necessary action to keep feeds clear of people that may show their junk online or worse

Isnt that just the usual legal talk? I think something like that even exists in Origins EULA and Steams too.

Even steam claims that you just buy licenses even thought in steam itselfe it never actually tells you that you buy a license but instead tells you that you buy a game.

EULAs allready mean absolutely nothing here in germany because you are allways presented with them after you bought the product... so they are unfunctional to begin with.

But alas.. aslong as no one sues theres no case... and thats what Sony, microsoft and valve are building on when dealing outside the US

I mean wich private person really wants to go toe to toe with a multy million international company with a whole army of lawyers of the highest calibre at their beck and call?

So they will get away with it like usual

"Seems a little snoopy to me...what do you think?"

Glad you asked. I think this is a manufactured controversy.

Maybe the Escapist News Now reporter would be fine with idiots messaging profane texts, video, and pictures of their junk with complete anonymity, but I wouldn't. When the inevitable harassment begins (and it will begin), not requiring the information necessary to target the abuser for appropriate response isn't realistic.

I'm no fan of corporate data strip-mining of consumers to turn the consumer into a product themselves. But expecting total anonymity for a paid product environment is absurd.

Is anyone really surprised by this? We knew this shit was coming, its just what companies do.

There is just no room for respecting their costumers in their minds.

While I thought Microsoft were being jerks for their snooping policies before the whole Xbox 180, I think this is crappy on Sony's part too. However, I don't really game much online and even if I did, I don't plan on streaming anything, nor do I ever talk when playing games online. Plus, I'd much rather have Sony snooping than the government, because at the very least you can turn the PS4 off or just not go online. You can't NOT use the phone or e-mail (or any electronic communications for that matter), and Big Brother monitors those at all times. Yet I bet everyone will be far more worried about Sony and Microsoft than the government.

Oh, man...I've been planning all my major crimes over the years using the Playstation Network. What am I going to do now?!? Sony will know where the bodies are hidden and where the money is buried! Wait...think this through, man...what would mobsters do with someone whose about to report their criminal undertakings? Got it: threats of violence! So, if PSN is listening, I want to let you know that I know where your family lives. Let's not have this get out of hand.

Seriously, if someone wants to monitor game invites and messages of people accusing me of modding COD when I win and being a n00b when I lose, they can go right ahead.

I don't see this one as a matter of disrespect. PSN is essentially a public space owned by SONY. These are the rules that allow them to moderate that space and keep illegal inappropriate or just plain gross activities off their network. Which honestly is what most customers ultimately prefer. You are not contracting for secure private comunications. You are contracting for a common playspace that adheres to certain community standards of behavior (real people community standards... NOT gamer community standards. We really don't want to be paying for Lord of the Flies.) . Think of this as the "Please Keep your pants on for Lets Play Videos" clause.

Don't forget about the Patriot Act and the NSA's privileges. This is no different from that.

And I don't care. If you do criminal or civil wrongdoings, you should be punished accordingly.
The key word there is ACCORDINGLY, of course.

This doesn't trouble me, all that stuff is public information anyway, except the text messages. And even then its still on Sony's private system. I'm honestly surprised they don't already do this. I've always assumed they did.

To me this sounds a lot more like the base for some attempt to clean up online behavior. Which I am all in favor of. I play limited amounts online, not because of anything sony does, but because of the crap players do. If just one of the real jacka... I've had to play with gets banned with this info I'm more than willing to agree to these terms.

Just means I won't be connecting my PS3 online anymore. I never play online anyway and all my PSN sign up data is completely fictional. I just like updates to titles if they need it. But if this kind of junk is a start of similar or more drastic things to come, count me out for the PS4.

GREAT!!! i wonder if the USA govern has some list of "Anti-American" people, becuase i would have a place on it after my first 10 mins of online gaming XD

I'm not terribly concerned. I kinda assumed this was the general way of things on any online service which provided voice or text chat services. It is really no surprise that Sony would want to monitor and record activity on PSN for a variety of purposes. It's hardly an intrusion of privacy when it's no secret that monitoring is possible and one willingly uses the service anyway. Getting mad about this would be kind of like talking to someone past someone else and getting mad when the person in the middle hears what you say. If you don't want others to hear, don't allow a middleman.

faefrost:
I don't see this one as a matter of disrespect. PSN is essentially a public space owned by SONY. These are the rules that allow them to moderate that space and keep illegal inappropriate or just plain gross activities off their network. Which honestly is what most customers ultimately prefer. You are not contracting for secure private comunications. You are contracting for a common playspace that adheres to certain community standards of behavior (real people community standards... NOT gamer community standards. We really don't want to be paying for Lord of the Flies.) . Think of this as the "Please Keep your pants on for Lets Play Videos" clause.

Agreed. Even secure private communications such as emails messages are being read in someways to filter out spam mails. I don't think there is complete privacy when it comes to internet.

LysanderNemoinis:
While I thought Microsoft were being jerks for their snooping policies before the whole Xbox 180, I think this is crappy on Sony's part too. However, I don't really game much online and even if I did, I don't plan on streaming anything, nor do I ever talk when playing games online. Plus, I'd much rather have Sony snooping than the government, because at the very least you can turn the PS4 off or just not go online. You can't NOT use the phone or e-mail (or any electronic communications for that matter), and Big Brother monitors those at all times. Yet I bet everyone will be far more worried about Sony and Microsoft than the government.

Dead Century:
Just means I won't be connecting my PS3 online anymore. I never play online anyway and all my PSN sign up data is completely fictional. I just like updates to titles if they need it. But if this kind of junk is a start of similar or more drastic things to come, count me out for the PS4.

And I guarantee your ISP keeps similar data on you. Got a phone service? So do they. Wouldn't be surprised to find similar data being kept by Steam, Origin, or any other service. Email accounts. Credit card companies...

None of these are doing what Facebook does and selling your data to advertisers. Often, they do this to help protect you. Credit card companies will note sudden odd purchases and question it, for example. I've even had my bank question my signature on checks, in the past.

This seems less like them doing something evil and more likely to be used for moderation and protecting the consumer. Both are things I would call good things. Sure, this could also open it up for Big Brother policies or selling your data to advertisers, but nothing indicates that at this moment. The main reason I don't extend this same defense to Microsoft is that they basically stated they can and will sell your data to advertisers.

Saltyk:

LysanderNemoinis:
While I thought Microsoft were being jerks for their snooping policies before the whole Xbox 180, I think this is crappy on Sony's part too. However, I don't really game much online and even if I did, I don't plan on streaming anything, nor do I ever talk when playing games online. Plus, I'd much rather have Sony snooping than the government, because at the very least you can turn the PS4 off or just not go online. You can't NOT use the phone or e-mail (or any electronic communications for that matter), and Big Brother monitors those at all times. Yet I bet everyone will be far more worried about Sony and Microsoft than the government.

Dead Century:
Just means I won't be connecting my PS3 online anymore. I never play online anyway and all my PSN sign up data is completely fictional. I just like updates to titles if they need it. But if this kind of junk is a start of similar or more drastic things to come, count me out for the PS4.

And I guarantee your ISP keeps similar data on you. Got a phone service? So do they. Wouldn't be surprised to find similar data being kept by Steam, Origin, or any other service. Email accounts. Credit card companies...

None of these are doing what Facebook does and selling your data to advertisers. Often, they do this to help protect you. Credit card companies will note sudden odd purchases and question it, for example. I've even had my bank question my signature on checks, in the past.

This seems less like them doing something evil and more likely to be used for moderation and protecting the consumer. Both are things I would call good things. Sure, this could also open it up for Big Brother policies or selling your data to advertisers, but nothing indicates that at this moment. The main reason I don't extend this same defense to Microsoft is that they basically stated they can and will sell your data to advertisers.

I agree for the most part with you. I'm not overly concerned with it, even if I don't like it too much. Like I said, businesses having some data doesn't bother me that much. After all, if a business does something you don't like, don't buy their product and all the bad press (see most of the stuff Microsoft was going to do) will make them change. If Big Brother does stuff you don't like, your only real option is to move out of the country, as there's nothing you can really do to defend yourself.

THIS JUST IN: Escapist monitors all activity on Escapist website!

Seriously, they're monitoring activity on their servers. It's kind of what a company should do with their servers.

To be honest i'm not that worried as long as they don't start trying to sell me advertisements, I don't have my credit cards on the PSN (i use the prepaid PSN cards), I rarely play online anyway and if Sony can keep some of the people who have been harrassing me lately away, i'm happy

I kind of deal with this with my 360 so it really doesn't matter all that much to me.

Not that I'm a lawyer but the language sounds to me that this is meant for them to track complaints, bugs, players, or otherwise.

Raziel:
This doesn't trouble me, all that stuff is public information anyway, except the text messages. And even then its still on Sony's private system. I'm honestly surprised they don't already do this. I've always assumed they did.

To me this sounds a lot more like the base for some attempt to clean up online behavior. Which I am all in favor of. I play limited amounts online, not because of anything sony does, but because of the crap players do. If just one of the real jacka... I've had to play with gets banned with this info I'm more than willing to agree to these terms.

I think the reason they have never explicitly stated these policies before, is that prior to this PSN was really not the central communications hub. Remember PSN's one big flaw was that it did not have a centralized global voice chat. That was left to in game implementation. They just provided a path to facilitate it more or less. With the deeper integration they have had to clarify and expand their policies. If you look into it, it is probably not much different then those put up by most MMO's and by XBL. It just seems more intrusive and shocking because they have the capabilities to log voice chat as well as text chat. But really in the overall scheme of things they amount to the same thing.

As I said above. So long as they are not using this to build marketing data, it is fine appropriate, and probably completely ethical. Ethics does support them policing their space to provide a safe welcoming environment for all and preventing harassment, exploitation and illegality. And as an example of what happens when such social networking providers fail to police said space or screw it up, just look at what has happened over at YouTube this week with the comenting changes. It was badly implemented and the site is over run with ASCII art penises. Privacy is the last thing you want to give gamers on the internet...

And well XBox one was already out for the kinnect spying machne... PS4 too, it only confirm what i had think, no next gen console for me.
I don't like corporation spying on me... no matter how nobles theyr intentions might be, it's still spying

Saltyk:

LysanderNemoinis:
While I thought Microsoft were being jerks for their snooping policies before the whole Xbox 180, I think this is crappy on Sony's part too. However, I don't really game much online and even if I did, I don't plan on streaming anything, nor do I ever talk when playing games online. Plus, I'd much rather have Sony snooping than the government, because at the very least you can turn the PS4 off or just not go online. You can't NOT use the phone or e-mail (or any electronic communications for that matter), and Big Brother monitors those at all times. Yet I bet everyone will be far more worried about Sony and Microsoft than the government.

Dead Century:
Just means I won't be connecting my PS3 online anymore. I never play online anyway and all my PSN sign up data is completely fictional. I just like updates to titles if they need it. But if this kind of junk is a start of similar or more drastic things to come, count me out for the PS4.

And I guarantee your ISP keeps similar data on you. Got a phone service? So do they. Wouldn't be surprised to find similar data being kept by Steam, Origin, or any other service. Email accounts. Credit card companies...

None of these are doing what Facebook does and selling your data to advertisers. Often, they do this to help protect you. Credit card companies will note sudden odd purchases and question it, for example. I've even had my bank question my signature on checks, in the past.

This seems less like them doing something evil and more likely to be used for moderation and protecting the consumer. Both are things I would call good things. Sure, this could also open it up for Big Brother policies or selling your data to advertisers, but nothing indicates that at this moment. The main reason I don't extend this same defense to Microsoft is that they basically stated they can and will sell your data to advertisers.

Fair point. But I might as well limit what I can. Just because one group has my data doesn't mean I should be careless with it. I see no good reason why I should freely give info to Sony. A console's just a console to me, I don't need that extra junk tied in.

i can't really say i didn't see it coming. besides, so far i can't figure out what i can do on PSN that i didn't expect Sony to know about anyway. I am pretty sure they know what i buy in the store, since, you know. THEY RUN THE STORE!. And that i am playing online i have no problem telling them, I don't think any of the things i have done in an online game can be used against me. I am a responsible person...most the time.

I honestly wish i had money to care.

So, let me see if I have this straight:

SONY, the company that in 2011 had 77,000,000,000 USERS' DATA STOLEN - including their CREDIT CARD DETAILS and then DID NOTHING for SEVEN DAYS (as opposed to say, force all users to change their passwords as a precautionary measure while continuing a thorough investigation) are going to be making new efforts to record more data from users?

THIS IS OK?

Let's assume they're going to take an similar to how approach Amazon manage user activity data. They're going to record your activity over time; this means when selling advertising at times they know the peak times of demographics activity and can charge more. This also records periods of very low activity, like when you're away from how, or logged into the PSN from a different country (because holidays). They don't delete this data, because they need to analyse how long term the trends are, so if you have the same holidays year after year, it'll be reflected in this too.

Which is great for a criminal say, because they don't need to hack anything.

When this data gets stolen (notice I didn't say if?) they can just stake out and rob the probably empty house of someone confirmed to have the kind of income that can pay for a PS4.

And why did I say *when*, not if? Because Sony has learned nothing from the day it was caught napping when 77 million of their customers had their information stolen. And I can prove this, because if they had, they'd have realised the only single way they could, with ABSOLUTE certainty to protect their customers from this happening ever again: to make a point of gathering LESS information from the customers.

Because they can't have stolen from them what they don't have. But instead, they're continuing on this ridiculous all-seeing-eye path knowing they'll be able to appease the goldfish-memoried twits that can forget about a dataloss of record breaking proportions a little over 2 years later.

And reading between the lines, the reason they're doing this is because their continuing their ludicrously regular firmware updates too out of fear that console custom firmware hackers will be able to get the kind of access they did with the PS2, PS3 and PSP consoles and use the PS3 as essentially a PC, or simply a machine to play pirated copies of games.

I can't see the issue. PSN is a public space that belongs to sony, of course they want to be able to monitor it. It's a legal safeguard as well as a practicality in terms of keeping their service in check.

If this in any way infringed on the privacy of the customers, it would be a whole different matter but as it is, most PSN user interactions are of public nature (with the possible exception of private voice chat).

Stop blowing shit out of proportion escapist. You're better than that.

faefrost:
I don't see this one as a matter of disrespect. PSN is essentially a public space owned by SONY. These are the rules that allow them to moderate that space and keep illegal inappropriate or just plain gross activities off their network. Which honestly is what most customers ultimately prefer. You are not contracting for secure private comunications. You are contracting for a common playspace that adheres to certain community standards of behavior (real people community standards... NOT gamer community standards. We really don't want to be paying for Lord of the Flies.) . Think of this as the "Please Keep your pants on for Lets Play Videos" clause.

This is what I thought. I can't believe this is a controversy, I thought it would be obvious that if you're doing anything over the PSN that they're recording it.

Isnt this one of the things everyone was going sooooo berserk with Microsoft about????

Johny_X2:
I can't see the issue. PSN is a public space that belongs to sony, of course they want to be able to monitor it. It's a legal safeguard as well as a practicality in terms of keeping their service in check.

If this in any way infringed on the privacy of the customers, it would be a whole different matter but as it is, most PSN user interactions are of public nature (with the possible exception of private voice chat).

Stop blowing shit out of proportion escapist. You're better than that.

Are they? I seem to recall a ton of bile flying at the Xbox One for this.... Fair is fair, is it not?

Riff Moonraker:

Johny_X2:
I can't see the issue. PSN is a public space that belongs to sony, of course they want to be able to monitor it. It's a legal safeguard as well as a practicality in terms of keeping their service in check.

If this in any way infringed on the privacy of the customers, it would be a whole different matter but as it is, most PSN user interactions are of public nature (with the possible exception of private voice chat).

Stop blowing shit out of proportion escapist. You're better than that.

Are they? I seem to recall a ton of bile flying at the Xbox One for this.... Fair is fair, is it not?

there's an important distinction there. The concerns with Xbox One were mainly focused on the kinect camera and the fact that it was capable of recording footage of you in your living room and sending it to Microsoft even when your xbox was turned off AND that you couldn't turn off kinect itself. That opens up a whole bunch of possibilities for breaches of art. 8 ECHR as far as EU law is concerned.

What Sony is doing is monitoring your store transactions, uploaded game footage and voice chat (etc). None of which is particularly sensitive or personal info, most of which was already public anyway and the access to which by the company can help them make sure that users are not violating the T&C and/or the law in any way. Also remember that Sony as a company also has a privacy policy which states that they will not disclose your info to anyone else. As for the hackers... well... I'm not touching that with a stick.

Now the private voice chat bit is probably the only mildly controversial bit. But honestly, to me that seems like nothing more than taking steps to protect themselves from liability in case the service is misused and associated with criminal activity. To give you an extreme example off the top of my head: there's another one of those horrible school shootings that now happen every other day in the US and it turns out that the shooter has mentioned their intentions to a third party over PSN voice chat. And all of the sudden, Sony is involved (don't read too much into it, it's not the most refined of examples but it should suffice for what I'm trying to convey here).

Also there's that thing about the likes of NSA and GCHQ monitoring phone calls for years. Yes, I know that the 'but they did it too' excuse does not make it right, and I am unwilling to start a discussion on whether GCHQ spying on private phone calls is wrong or not; I just think that if that didn't affect your life in any significant way, neither will Sony's recording of your voice chat. And I also believe that they have a good reason to do so and will not misuse the gathered info in any way, because I'm just a massive optimist, apparently.

Pink Apocalypse:
"Seems a little snoopy to me...what do you think?"

Glad you asked. I think this is a manufactured controversy.

Maybe the Escapist News Now reporter would be fine with idiots messaging profane texts, video, and pictures of their junk with complete anonymity, but I wouldn't. When the inevitable harassment begins (and it will begin), not requiring the information necessary to target the abuser for appropriate response isn't realistic.

I'm no fan of corporate data strip-mining of consumers to turn the consumer into a product themselves. But expecting total anonymity for a paid product environment is absurd.

Ya I'm kinda with you on this one. You want total privacy? Don't play online. You play an online game? I think it's good that if start sending hate messages Sony can throw down the banhammer if you start acting like a toerag.

And even though I don't really play online myself at all, if I was I'd be totally willing to click agree having no intention to be a toerag online, and fully willing to sacrifice certain privacy privileges in order to be better protected.

Riff Moonraker:
Isnt this one of the things everyone was going sooooo berserk with Microsoft about????

No, that's not it, this is not enforced upon you, if you use their services, then you are accepting that they can moderate it. On the other hand Microsoft presented an ALWAYS ONLINE requirement, that had these same issues (plus the extra necessity for an always online camera).

To be honest, this is pretty standard procedure in any social media environment. If you post pictures of your junk in facebook, they WILL take them down, if you announce that you will murder someone, they can use that as evidence. If you are engaging in illicit actvity, they have not only the means but the responsibility to stop you or else they are liable themselves.
It is the regular user agreement.

Has everyone forgotten about the number of BUTTSEKKS levels in Little big planet? I suppose in the worse case scenario measures like this can lead to some really strict regime of terror, but people, people take off the tinfoil helmets, there are perfectly logical reasons why these requirements are in place.

I don't really use PSN to communicate at all with anything.
I don't voice chat or play console games online so it doesn't really affect me. Sony has my credit card info, so they already know where I live.

I think the most I've done is message a friend on it asking "How is that game?"
and he replied "I like it".

Johny_X2:

Riff Moonraker:

Johny_X2:
I can't see the issue. PSN is a public space that belongs to sony, of course they want to be able to monitor it. It's a legal safeguard as well as a practicality in terms of keeping their service in check.

If this in any way infringed on the privacy of the customers, it would be a whole different matter but as it is, most PSN user interactions are of public nature (with the possible exception of private voice chat).

Stop blowing shit out of proportion escapist. You're better than that.

Are they? I seem to recall a ton of bile flying at the Xbox One for this.... Fair is fair, is it not?

there's an important distinction there. The concerns with Xbox One were mainly focused on the kinect camera and the fact that it was capable of recording footage of you in your living room and sending it to Microsoft even when your xbox was turned off AND that you couldn't turn off kinect itself. That opens up a whole bunch of possibilities for breaches of art. 8 ECHR as far as EU law is concerned.

What Sony is doing is monitoring your store transactions, uploaded game footage and voice chat (etc). None of which is particularly sensitive or personal info, most of which was already public anyway and the access to which by the company can help them make sure that users are not violating the T&C and/or the law in any way. Also remember that Sony as a company also has a privacy policy which states that they will not disclose your info to anyone else. As for the hackers... well... I'm not touching that with a stick.

Now the private voice chat bit is probably the only mildly controversial bit. But honestly, to me that seems like nothing more than taking steps to protect themselves from liability in case the service is misused and associated with criminal activity. To give you an extreme example off the top of my head: there's another one of those horrible school shootings that now happen every other day in the US and it turns out that the shooter has mentioned their intentions to a third party over PSN voice chat. And all of the sudden, Sony is involved (don't read too much into it, it's not the most refined of examples but it should suffice for what I'm trying to convey here).

Also there's that thing about the likes of NSA and GCHQ monitoring phone calls for years. Yes, I know that the 'but they did it too' excuse does not make it right, and I am unwilling to start a discussion on whether GCHQ spying on private phone calls is wrong or not; I just think that if that didn't affect your life in any significant way, neither will Sony's recording of your voice chat. And I also believe that they have a good reason to do so and will not misuse the gathered info in any way, because I'm just a massive optimist, apparently.

Valid points, good sir. :)

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