Microsoft outlines Xbox privacy policy amid Kinect concerns

"No one could look at the numbers and know they represent you."

Ahead of the launch of Xbox One and the new and improved Kinect, Microsoft has published its revised Xbox Privacy Statement.

Of particular interest is the corporation's privacy policies around Kinect 2.0, which includes a camera and comes bundled with Xbox One.

When the camera is used to sign you into Xbox One, Kinect measures distances between key points on your face to create a numeric value that represents only you, Microsoft revealed.

"No one could look at the numbers and know they represent you," Microsoft insisted. "This authentication information stays on the console and is not shared with anyone."

Microsoft said users are in control of what happens to photographs that are taken during gameplay, and in control of whether voice commands are captured for analysis. It reiterated the fact you can turn Kinect off at any time.

When Kinect is used with certain games and apps, your skeletal movements can be used to estimate exercise stats. Microsoft said you can decide how your stats are managed and whether they are shared.

The new Kinect also lets you use your "defined facial expressions" to control or influence a game. Microsoft said this data does not identify you, stays on the console and is destroyed once your session ends.

Other sections of the statement reiterate what Microsoft told Eurogamer last month following the publication of an article that suggested the company intended to use Xbox One player data to "reshape marketing".

At the time Microsoft told Eurogamer it would "not target ads to you based on any data Kinect collects unless you choose to allow us to do so".

"Except as described in this privacy statement, we won't disclose your personal information to a third party without your consent," the latest privacy statement reads.

"Xbox Services are supported by advertising," it continues. "Because Microsoft serves advertisements on the console and on our own web sites as well as those of our advertising and publisher partners, we are able to compile information over time about your use of Xbox services and the types of pages, content and ads you visited or viewed online.

"This information is used for many purposes, including to help select and display targeted advertisements that we believe may be of interest to you. When we display online advertisements to you, we will place one or more persistent cookies on your computer in order to recognize your computer each time we display an ad to you."

You may opt out of targeted ads from Microsoft, the company stressed, on any device.

One of the Xbox One's features is Upload Studio, which allows players to record gameplay footage as well as themselves, edit video and publish it to the wider Xbox Live community.

Upload Studio, developed by London-based Soho Productions, is fuelled by Xbox One's in-built digital video recorder (DVR), which automatically records the last five minutes of gameplay.

"GameDVR is an Xbox One feature that lets you record the game you're playing, including when you're playing with other people in your house or multiplayer on Xbox Live," Microsoft said in the privacy statement.

"When playing multiplayer on Xbox Live, any player in that session can use GameDVR to record their view of the gameplay taking place in that session. The recording may capture your in-game character and gamertag in the game clips created by other players in the gameplay session.

"No audio chat is recorded in these game clips."

When Xbox One was announced Microsoft planned for it to authenticate online once every 24 hours and require Kinect be plugged in to work. Following a backlash it ditched this plan.

But that hasn't stopped many from expressing concern at how Xbox One will handle their data, particularly in the context of the ongoing PRISM scandal and Microsoft's involvement with it.

In an interview with Eurogamer conducted at Microsoft's Redmond Xbox One reveal event in May, Europe chief Phil Harrison denied the company planned to use Kinect to snoop on gamers.

"Microsoft has very, very good policies around privacy," he said. "We're a leader in the world of privacy, I think you'll find. We take it very seriously. We aren't using Kinect to snoop on anybody at all. We listen for the word 'Xbox on' and then switch on the machine, but we don't transmit personal data in any way, shape or form that could be personally identifiable to you, unless you explicitly opt into that."

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