Xbox One's Kinect camera at work (Credit: Microsoft)
The U.S. House of Representatives has introduced legislation that could force the console to visibly alert users that they are being monitored.
The “We Are Watching You Act of 2013” bill (honest, that's the name) isn't just aimed at consoles, however. Its broader focus is any set-top box device that includes a camera capable of monitoring the activity of users.
Introduced by Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Mass.) and Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), the proposal would require companies using a camera-equipped box to display the message "We are watching you" whenever viewers are being monitored for any reason. Companies would also need to provide a camera-free service at the customer's request -- a move that could have big implications for the Xbox One, which requires the Kinect camera to function properly.
[Related: Xbox One hardware images]
Microsoft, of course, isn't alone here. Other companies that could be affected include Intel (which is working on an Internet delivered TV service) and Samsung (which has many sets with cameras installed in them).
The Xbox One has been a big focus of privacy advocates since its announcement. The Kinect sensor remains on in a semi-permanent state, listening for commands like "Xbox On" to fully power up the system.
The company responded to those concerns a week and a half ago in a message posted on its site:
"You will determine how responsive and personalized your Xbox One is to you and your family during setup. The system will navigate you through key privacy options, like automatic or manual sign in, privacy settings, and clear notifications about how data is used. When Xbox One is on and you're simply having a conversation in your living room, your conversation is not being recorded or uploaded."
That may not be enough for lawmakers, who are looking to force video providers to display the message anytime data is being collected, as well as a description of exactly what data is being gathered and how it will be used.
- Technology & Electronics
- Mike Capuano