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Xbox One Privacy Risk: Constantly Listening To Conversations

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With the announcement of Microsoft’s next generation gaming console, the Xbox One, it has emerged that the new system carries a device that will be ‘constantly listening’ to gamer’s conversations.

During a PR move designed to make the Xbox One appear more attractive, Microsoft’s hardware program manager, John Link, let slip that a component bundled with the console, the Kinect, will contain a microphone that never turns off.

The current version of the Kinect also contains a microphone but that can be switched off.

Speaking last night, Link said:

“The Kinect has a variety of settings. You know, it’s always available to the system, so … you can count, as an application developer or a game developer, [that] everyone’s going to have a Kinect. You always have that stream available. And then, you know, there are settings, obviously, in the console to be able to change the settings of how your Kinect is used, if you’re interested.

“It will be just listening enough to know that, ‘Hey, I heard something interesting. Somebody’s probably trying to wake me up.’ It sends it to the console for confirmation, and then it can really power up to that high-power state.”

The new system can automatically detect and identify users through their body shape and voice. The system can also monitor heart rates.

Microsoft were quick to defend the technology, releasing a statement:

“The new Kinect is listening for a specific cue, like ‘Xbox on,’” the spokesperson said. “We know our customers want and expect strong privacy protections to be built into our products, devices and services, and for companies to be responsible stewards of their data. Microsoft has more than 10 years of experience making privacy a top priority. Kinect for Xbox 360 was designed and built with strong privacy protections in place and the new Kinect will continue this commitment.”

They also added:

“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.”

However, the company aren’t exactly known for their commitment to privacy.

We recently revealed how the company were involved with ’Legal intercept’ technology that provides governments with an easy way to monitor VoIP communication, and how the Kinect could be potentially used to restrict activity in the home.

Not to mention that last year they helped police to build a surveillance system across New York which connects a wide variety of technologies together for the NYPD. They hope to sell the big brother system to other cities around the world.

Also in 2012 Microsoft came under fire for its privacy policy and in 2010 Windows Live exposed users names and other data.

Its not just Microsoft that Xbox One users should be concerned about, it’s also malicious hackers who could eavesdrop on conversations in the living room via the Internet.

The software giant doesn’t exactly have a solid track record for producing secure systems. Earlier this year hackers accessed the Xbox Live accounts of employees.

Nonetheless, millions of children, including my own, will now be begging their parents for the latest must-have tech. We have to hand it to corporations like Microsoft and Google… they have managed to turn Big brother into the unthinkable; an object of desire.

 

daily alternative | alternative news – Xbox One: Constantly Listening To Conversations

via Xbox One: Constantly Listening To Conversations.

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Technology

Google Upgrades Digital Wallet to Pay by Facial Recognition

As we march steadily toward a cashless society, Google is naturally at the forefront of seeing it come to fruition as quickly as possible.

Despite the fact that several years ago Google had a major security scare with its first incarnation of the digital wallet smartphone app, which required a temporary shutdown, they are announcing a new system being tested which does not even require the smartphone at all.

A growing number of people apparently find that having to remove their smartphone is just such a hassle that they are prepared to embrace payment via biometrics – in this case, facial recognition.

As a perfect indicator of the target market, please read this sad quote:

“Imagine if you could rush through a drive-thru without reaching for your wallet, or pick up a hot dog at the ballpark without fumbling to pass coins or your credit card to the cashier,” Bhat said. (Source)

In one sentence, that quote might represent literally everything that is wrong with modern society.

The new system is being cleverly called Hands Free; and, as the second indicator of its potential mass appeal, it will be rolled out first at McDonald’s and Papa John’s fast food restaurants.

A second more serious component to this ties in with the recent rollout of citywide WiFi systems that keep people connected at all times. Layered on top of that is the arrival of billboards with hidden cameras built in that can film you, then track you through your mobile phone. This reality makes the following information more chilling than convenient:

The digital wallet uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections alone [sic] with location sensing capabilities in smartphones to detect when someone is near a store enabled with Hands Free payment technology.

“When you’re ready to pay, you can simply tell the cashier, ‘I’ll pay with Google,’” Bhat said.

“The cashier will ask for your initials and use the picture you added to your Hands Free profile to confirm your identity.”

At some locations, Google is experimented [sic] with using cameras in stores to recognize people with Hands Free digital wallets so they could pay without even pausing. (emphasis added)

The number of people already prepared to accept this system numbers in the millions, according to Google.

Although this announcement would appear to border on satire, please view the videos below to get an idea about a world where cash is seen as a major annoyance, and laziness is embraced as a virtue.

 

 

daily alternative | alternative news – Google Upgrades Digital Wallet to Pay by Facial Recognition

via Google Upgrades Digital Wallet to Pay by Facial Recognition.

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