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Microsoft will "aggressively challenge" any government attempt to use Kinect for snooping

Asks US government to publish details of past data requests.

After becoming embroiled in the recent PRISM fiasco, Microsoft has said that it would fight to block any government access to Kinect user data.

The company is currently trying to release more information on the data requests it has received from intelligence services in the past, but is being blocked from doing so by the US government.

"Absent a new law, we don't believe the government has the legal authority to compel us or any other company that makes products with cameras and microphones to start collecting voice and video data," a Microsoft spokesperson told The Verge, when asked about Kinect privacy. "We'd aggressively challenge in court any attempts to try and force us to do so."

The new Kinect sensor will retain an activity light so you know when it's recording, the company added.

It's not the first time that Microsoft has sought to calm fears over Xbox One privacy. The company previously promised that Kinect would not record ambient conversation data, and only listened for the "Xbox On" voice command when switched off.

"When Xbox One is on and you're simply having a conversation in your living room, your conversation is not being recorded or uploaded," Microsoft explained on Xbox.com.

Fears of how Kinect could be used to spy on users follow reports in The Guardian that Microsoft had helped US intelligence agencies access private emails and Skype video calls.

In a blog post published last week, Microsoft reponded by saying it "does not provide any government with direct and unfettered access to our customer's data" but that it had responded to "lawful demands from governments to turn over content for specific accounts, pursuant to a search warrant or court order".

Microsoft also played down fears that it had installed government snooping backdoors in any of its services.

"We only respond to requests for specific accounts and identifiers," the company's legal boss Brad Smith wrote. "There is no blanket or indiscriminate access to Microsoft's customer data. The aggregate data we have been able to publish shows clearly that only a tiny fraction - fractions of a percent - of our customers have ever been subject to a government demand related to criminal law or national security."

Microsoft has asked the US Attorney General to permit itself and other companies to share more information on what data it gives to government security agencies, such as the number of security requests it has received. At the moment it is blocked from releasing this information by the US government.

"There are significant inaccuracies in the interpretations of leaked government documents reported in the media last week," Microsoft concluded. "We have asked the Government again for permission to discuss the issues raised by these new documents, and our request was denied by government lawyers."

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Tom Phillips avatar

Tom Phillips

Deputy Editor

Tom is Eurogamer's deputy editor. He writes lots of news, some of the puns and makes sure we put the accent on Pokémon.

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