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The Spy In Our Living Room

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the hint:-it's-not-james-bond dept.

Government 148

An anonymous reader writes "Ben Kuchera at Polygon ponders the surveillance capabilities of our gaming consoles in light of recent NSA and GCHQ revelations. 'Xbox One Kinect can see in the dark. It can keep a moving human being in focus without motors. It knows how to isolate voices from background noise. The privacy implications of having a device that originally couldn't be removed pointed at your living room at all times was always kind of scary, and that fear has been at least partially justified.' Kuchera, like many of us, habitually disconnects cameras and microphones not currently in use. But he also feels a sense of inevitability about the whole thing: 'If the government wants this information they're going to get it, no matter what we do with our gaming consoles. It's important to pay attention to what our government is doing, but this issue is much bigger than our gaming consoles, and we open ourselves up to much greater forms of intrusion on a daily basis.'"

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1984 (5, Interesting)

slapout (93640) | about 6 months ago | (#46371519)

Reminds me of the TVs in "1984".

Re:1984 (3, Insightful)

EvilSS (557649) | about 6 months ago | (#46371959)

TV's of 1984 or 2014? Some new smart TV's have cameras and mics for Skype, Microphones in the remotes for voice. My LG can snap screenshots from the mobile phone app, newer models can stream video. It knows what you watch and can (and was, without notification) send that info home. Screw the consoles, the TVs themselves may be monitoring us.

Re:1984 (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46372131)

In Soviet America, TV watches you !

Re:1984 (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 6 months ago | (#46372623)

+1 I think this is the first time this joke has been on-topic and relevant!

Re:1984 (4, Insightful)

epyT-R (613989) | about 6 months ago | (#46372713)

That joke has been on topic and relevant for almost 20 years now at least..and becoming more relevant in so-called 'free' countries every day.

Re:1984 (2)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 6 months ago | (#46371991)

"I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that. Great job in that last round of bowling though."

http://www.gadgetguy.com.au/cm... [gadgetguy.com.au]

Re:1984 (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about 6 months ago | (#46373251)

All indications are it is worse than that, "Dave, um, you broke the law, they say I will have to report you unless you do all of the following, report on your neighbours, attend the 'right' political rallies and functions and vote the right way'. "Dave a new list of instruction will be provided to you regularly and you will obey else you will be prosecuted for a range of crimes and sentenced to extended imprisonment, we have the selectively edited evidence, we know when you did not have a alibi and how the matches crimes in the area and we have added in some extras".

Once monitoring breached the law it was no longer about maintaining the law it was all about power and control, shifting that power and control to the heads of those agencies and their corporate backers. Hiding crimes, fabricating crimes, extortion to force obedience, removing uncooperative people, using the courts as punishments in false prosecutions. How bad was it, hmm, none, not one of the criminals who perpetrated those criminal activities has been punished in any way shape or form and in the only persons targeted to date are those that reported the criminal activities. It really is that bad and, there is a real and present danger right now.

Re:1984 (2)

zerro (1820876) | about 6 months ago | (#46372281)

In Kapitalist Amerika, TV watches YOU!

Re:1984 (4, Interesting)

memnock (466995) | about 6 months ago | (#46372811)

... But he also feels a sense of inevitability about the whole thing: 'If the government wants this information they're going to get it, no matter what we do with our gaming consoles. ...

Sure, if you keep thinking it's okay to keep your mouth shut and roll over. I suppose though that at least he is writing about this and spreading the word, so he's not just keeping his mouth shut.

But the way he makes it seem like a foregone conclusion to me just doesn't sit well with me.

Yea, another NSA Article (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46371549)

How many does that make today? I've lost count.

Re:Yea, another NSA Article (0)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about 6 months ago | (#46372039)

Are you tired of people being made to think about how to safeguard their freedom, coward? Here's a solution: you should leave Slashdot and never come back.

Re:Yea, another NSA Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46372509)

Are you tired of people being made to think about how to safeguard their freedom, coward? Here's a solution: you should leave Slashdot and never come back.

If you're such a badass, why don't you post your REAL name and home address, bitch ?

Re:Yea, another NSA Article (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46372653)

Because you already have it, NSA-fag.

Re:Yea, another NSA Article (1)

StevenMaurer (115071) | about 6 months ago | (#46372779)

This entire thread is actually making me want to not come back to Slashdot.

Go slapfight somewhere else

I wonder about the legality though (5, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | about 6 months ago | (#46371561)

What if I put an XBox360 in a locked room with no windows, turned it on with a kinect camera pointing at a sign which threatens a top political figure. If someone acts on it, how would they justify their actions? Legally it would be extremely questionable and ultimately, it would not be a threat as much as it would be a trap for the government to fall into. After all, discovery would result in all manner of details which should enter public record. ...or I could disappear into a puff of darkness.

Re:I wonder about the legality though (5, Insightful)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 6 months ago | (#46371613)

What if I put an XBox360 in a locked room with no windows, turned it on with a kinect camera pointing at a sign which threatens a top political figure. If someone acts on it, how would they justify their actions? Legally it would be extremely questionable and ultimately, it would not be a threat as much as it would be a trap for the government to fall into. After all, discovery would result in all manner of details which should enter public record. ...or I could disappear into a puff of darkness.

It would be one hell of an entertaining story for your cellmate in Guantanamo.

same for laptops and cell phones (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 6 months ago | (#46371745)

Anything they can do with an xbox they can do with a cell phone / laptop as well. I just bought one of these:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H9... [amazon.com]

discrete static cling covers for your glass-front equipment. you can still peel off when you want to facetime or whatever, then put them back.

I don't know how to muffle the microphones when I'm not using them, does anybody have ideas?

Re:same for laptops and cell phones (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 6 months ago | (#46371889)

How about just unplugging the sh!t?

Re:same for laptops and cell phones (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | about 6 months ago | (#46371933)

What, opening the phone, voiding the warranty and unplugging the camera(s) from the board (or possibly cutting the traces)? Or do you mean pulling the phone's battery?

Re:same for laptops and cell phones (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 6 months ago | (#46371999)

the thing is sometimes I want to facetime with my family. its the other times that I don't want to be watched.

Re:same for laptops and cell phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46373291)

You'd make a great agent!

Re:same for laptops and cell phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46373299)

We'll call ya: Agent McGoo!

Re:same for laptops and cell phones (1)

Holi (250190) | about 6 months ago | (#46372199)

turn your phone off. I mean if your that paranoid.

Re:same for laptops and cell phones (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 6 months ago | (#46372443)

would I be cray-cray if I put a sticker over the cameraphone? is that something that nutso people do? should I be alarmed that I think this is a reasonable thing to do? I ask for your real opinion. Ever since there was a tv there were people who were convinced that it was watching them and listening to them. I'm sure each one of them thought it was a reasonable belief.

Re:same for laptops and cell phones (1)

YukariHirai (2674609) | about 6 months ago | (#46372883)

would I be cray-cray if I put a sticker over the cameraphone? is that something that nutso people do? should I be alarmed that I think this is a reasonable thing to do?

In short, yes. While it is certainly within the realms of possibility that it could be used to spy on you, it's so tremendously unlikely to happen that it's not worth worrying about. At present, anyway. And really, what does someone actually get out of looking through your phone's camera? 99% of the time, it'd just be a very dark extreme closeup of the inside of your pocket, and the rest of the time split between an extreme closeup of your ear while you talk and your face as you giggle at the latest cat video.

Re:same for laptops and cell phones (2)

s.petry (762400) | about 6 months ago | (#46373777)

Nope, temperature and motion sensors could be used to tell people want to watch the camera. The microphone is a different issue but sensors and GPS would still let them know when to start looking at you. Sensors have been in phones for a long time, as has been the ability for your phone to broadcast sensor information even when you believe the phone is turned "off".

Re:I wonder about the legality though (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46373653)

The FBI actually trains police officers on exactly that: How to hide the fact that the information tip came from surveillance. They will find a way to make it look like you made a threat in a public place at some point. They literally do it every day.

     

Parallel Construction (5, Insightful)

PraiseBob (1923958) | about 6 months ago | (#46371671)

This is the entire point of parallel construction. They can't or won't reveal how they are monitoring you secretly. Instead they can claim that you were acting suspicious based on something else you've done which has nominally taken place in some kind of public space. Then they get a warrant based on that, and "find" the threats you are making, and charge you with that too.

Re:Parallel Construction (2)

erroneus (253617) | about 6 months ago | (#46372133)

All these fancy words for LIES. This is conspiracy against the American people and the people who push the documents instructing law enforcement to do that need to be tried for treason.

Yeah I am aware of the parallel construction bit. That's why we need to trap some LEOs with it.

Re:Parallel Construction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46373317)

Never going to happen, dumbass.

Re:Parallel Construction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46373543)

And you know the penalty for treason in a time of war. It's the only way to focus their attention.

Re:I wonder about the legality though (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 6 months ago | (#46371853)

Legality? What does that matter any more? That will be decided in a secret court anyway.

. . . and no, the secret court is not going to inform you how it decided, either.

Re:I wonder about the legality though (1)

kuhnto (1904624) | about 6 months ago | (#46371907)

Along this same line of thought, why doesn't somewone setup a long term experiment and wireshark all the data that is coming out of the new xbox? Lets see what is being sent out or not. True, it will most likely be encrypted, but at least some traffic analysis woud be interesting. And large bursts of data? Any activity when someone walks in?

Re:I wonder about the legality though (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46372155)

I guarantee you that the Kinect does not transfer that kind of information to Microsoft since it will be caught and there will be outrage.

Obviously, if they were planning on using the device to spy on people, it'd be for extremely targeted operations, activating monitoring mode only for certain people, and therefore not likely to be discovered.

Re:I wonder about the legality though (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 6 months ago | (#46373797)

This is a pathetic attempt at shilling, no free donuts for one month!

Re:I wonder about the legality though (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 6 months ago | (#46372227)

What if I put an XBox360 in a locked room with no windows, turned it on with a kinect camera pointing at a sign which threatens a top political figure.

Ten bucks if you try it right now and post the video.

Legally it would be extremely questionable

Oh, I'm sure that's gonna stop the NSA. Shall we find out?

Re:I wonder about the legality though (1)

James McGuigan (852772) | about 6 months ago | (#46372633)

The NSA was never here, we just happened to be passing a sniffer patrol unit infront of your house, the dog barked so we got a warrant, didn't find any drugs after we broke down the door, but we did find one hell of a sign.

Re:I wonder about the legality though (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46373185)

Things don't work that way now. They would simply lock this person away indefinitely and without trial, under the p@7R!O7 aC7.

BS (1)

mbone (558574) | about 6 months ago | (#46371573)

'If the government wants this information they're going to get it, no matter what we do with our gaming consoles.

More pernicious BS I have never heard. By the same token, there is no reason to use either door-locks or condoms.

BTW, I do not have a Kinect and have covers on all web-enabled cameras, including the one in my laptop.

Re:BS (1)

MtHuurne (602934) | about 6 months ago | (#46371891)

The door lock analogy works best, I think: if there is something really valuable in the house, a door lock won't stop a thief, but for an average house a good lock could make it not worth the effort. Likewise, if my government (the Netherlands has a population of almost 17 million) can afford to spy on a thousand people, I won't be among them, but if they can afford to spy on a million people, I might be. So if you want privacy, make sure mass spying does not become too easy.

...and that's why I don't have a Kinect or PS Eye (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46371579)

Microsoft and the like can track what games I own (fine), what DLC I download (fine), what searches I do (fine), what music I listen to or movies I watch (fine)

But when they want to scan my room, listen to what I say? I ask, why would I want to buy an overpriced gimmicky motion controller that so obviously does more than just track my gestures.

Microsoft started failing by pushing ads through my connection, against my will, and charged me for the pleasure. I can only imagine what they're getting out of the Kinect.

Well arguably it can't see in the dark (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about 6 months ago | (#46371597)

Last I checked the way kinect works is it basically shines an infrared light that you can't see but the cameras can. It uses this light to illuminate things. BTW, your cell phone's camera can also see in infrared. (As can the sensor on the Wii.)

Re:Well arguably it can't see in the dark (1)

JStyle (833234) | about 6 months ago | (#46371643)

Note that the wii sensor bar is only infrared LEDs. The camera is in the wii remote itself. It is also shielded by a infrared filter, so not much visible light makes it in there. Footage would be nearly useless as the remotes are generally pointed at the TV or flailing about.

Wii Remote returns position, not actual picture (1)

tepples (727027) | about 6 months ago | (#46371673)

Footage would be nearly useless as the remotes are generally pointed at the TV or flailing about.

That and the Wii Remote firmware summarizes the picture from its 128x96 pixel IR camera into the positions and sizes of the four largest bright spots anyway.

Re:Well arguably it can't see in the dark (1)

UnderCoverPenguin (1001627) | about 6 months ago | (#46371835)

An image taken in IR is as good as the resolution of the camera. Of course, some details important details will be missing, but many ordinary photographs also miss important details.

Re:Well arguably it can't see in the dark (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46372841)

It can't see in the dark if you keep it locked in a steel box when not in use. Of course, what a pain in the ass that would be.

Re:Well arguably it can't see in the dark (1)

niftymitch (1625721) | about 6 months ago | (#46372495)

Note that the wii sensor bar is only infrared LEDs. The camera is in the wii remote itself. It is also shielded by a infrared filter, so not much visible light makes it in there. Footage would be nearly useless as the remotes are generally pointed at the TV or flailing about.

There is a reason most cameras have IR filters.
A camera that is designed to see in the IR can almost
see through clothing. Same with some flash situations
as a celeb or two has discovered.

Given the nature of TLA alterations to hardware, camera modifications
to gaming consoles, laptops and more are to be expected where
technology makes it possible.

Light switches, smoke and CO detectors, wireless devices including routers
can all be hacked. Little protects my WiFi router update code from being
spoofed when it reaches out for an update.

Same for my TV cable provider boxes. OK not the same... bandwidth is off
the hook for those guys as is storage, power and processor power in the box.

Re:Well arguably it can't see in the dark (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 months ago | (#46372539)

Footage would be nearly useless as the remotes are generally pointed at the TV or flailing about.

There are techniques for producing high-quality still imagery from video and position data. Better yet, there are techniques for producing 3d imagery from the same.

XBox Kinect: An NSA wet dream and . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46371609)

A worthless gaming peripheral!

Re:XBox Kinect: An NSA wet dream and . . . (1)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about 6 months ago | (#46372101)

This is the truth. All Kinect games involve an insane amount of luck because of the device's lack of accuracy. The only thing this device is good for is surveillance, so I assume that's what it's really for. Gamers need precise control, and the Kinect doesn't have it.

Re:XBox Kinect: An NSA wet dream and . . . (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 6 months ago | (#46372141)

The joy of the Kinect-2 is the voice control and player recognition - and the ability to use it to multi-task in snaps.

I can walk into the room and casually say "XBox On," followed by "Watch TV" and "Watch ESPN." ...all before I'm done changing out of my work clothes. The voice control on it is pretty damned impressive, as is its ability to tell members of my family apart, and log them in and out of the system automatically.

Re:XBox Kinect: An NSA wet dream and . . . (1)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about 6 months ago | (#46372805)

Yes, like I said, useless for gaming.

Re:XBox Kinect: An NSA wet dream and . . . (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 months ago | (#46372877)

Does it actually play games? Since it isn't backwards compatible, I assume there's not many.

Does it play Blu Ray discs? Because the last one they'd bet on HD-DVD which went nowhere.

Does it let me play games without trying to monetize every aspect of that and share that information with Microsoft? I seriously doubt that.

To me it sounds like an attempt to be the entertainment hub of your room, sell you ads and premium services, violate your privacy, and has conveniently forgotten what some people want is a video game console.

To me it sounds like they're making something else and calling it a video game. And if it needs an internet connection, I have no interest in it.

Re:XBox Kinect: An NSA wet dream and . . . (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 6 months ago | (#46373855)

There is a whole lot of psychology to contemplate with this behavior, and not very much of it is positive unless the people using it are handicapped in some way

Since the majority of the people doing this have nothing impairing them (obesity from laziness does not count) I find it sad. I would think differently if starting up the device required more than pressing a button after picking up a remote or moving to a box.

Only if it is connected to a network (1)

dtribble (821508) | about 6 months ago | (#46371617)

Our kid's XBox is not connected to any network. It really is as simple as that.

Re:Only if it is connected to a network (1)

koan (80826) | about 6 months ago | (#46371843)

That you know of.

Re:Only if it is connected to a network (1)

UnderCoverPenguin (1001627) | about 6 months ago | (#46371887)

We also didn't allow cameras in our daughter's room or other private rooms in the house.

Re:Only if it is connected to a network (1)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about 6 months ago | (#46372119)

Why do you assume that non networked devices don't surveil you? Logging is all that's required, especially if said log can be stored in a place inaccessible to users.

Re:Only if it is connected to a network (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 months ago | (#46372833)

Why do you assume that non networked devices don't surveil you?

But if it's powered off and or air-gapped, who is going to collect it and how?

When my XBox 360 isn't in use, the Kinect is powered down. When it isn't connected to the internet (which it never is, and never will be), there's no mechanism for someone to get anything from it.

The XBone insists it is always connected to the internet (last I heard) and I'm not sure I trust that when the deice is off it isn't still recording -- many people pretty much have been saying this would happen for years, that our entertainment devices would become privacy nightmares.

When Microsoft et al decided it was their console and that it would do whatever they wanted ... many of us decided we'd not be willing to buy it.

Re:Only if it is connected to a network (1)

Marrow (195242) | about 6 months ago | (#46372861)

What makes you think the wireless adapter is really turned off?

don't own a console (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46371623)

If you don't want your game console to spy on you, don't own one. There are plenty of other gaming options.

What's that you say? Cool kids need to own consoles to be cool kids? Guess what, kids? Big Brother is cool! Big Brother loves you! Big Brother wants to fuck you up the ass, and the best part is, you want to enjoy it! Idiots.

Sounds like telephones in the old Soviet Union (4, Interesting)

dtjohnson (102237) | about 6 months ago | (#46371625)

The landline telephones in the old USSR didn't hang up when the user put the handset back in the cradle and so people routinely put a pillow over them.

Power bar (1)

phorm (591458) | about 6 months ago | (#46371659)

I have a computer which doesn't really shut down fully, but rather has one of those motherboards that will keep powered up enough to charge USB devices etc.
It's annoying as the PSU also has a bit of a whine from either the capacitors or transformers.

My solution is an old single-outlet power-bar which has an on/off button. It plugs into the regular power-bar, and then the computer plugs into it. When I'm not using the computer, I just turn off the juice at the bar.

For those worried about other electronic devices with cameras etc, I'd imagine a similar method would work. If in doubt, pull the plug.

Fuel (3, Informative)

gmuslera (3436) | about 6 months ago | (#46371775)

If you think that is bad enough that the government is doing it, think that in fact the ones doing it is the people of the government, the same ones that spied the conversation between US soldiers and their fiancees/wives [go.com] when they were at Afganistan, and shared between themselves the hottest parts.

Probably the biggest repository of child porn of the world is in NSA servers for their "investigative" use. And we are speaking about people that have power over you and your family.

Re:Fuel (2)

s.petry (762400) | about 6 months ago | (#46373909)

This is exactly why you don't want Governments doing _anything_ illegal. The intention for the DEA to buy cocaine might be to bust a dealer, but the risk for agents to abuse or resell the cocaine for personal gain now exists. Allowing parallel construction so that a special case can be busted means that it will also be used for vindictive purposes. What we have lost is accountability within our Government, and the requirement for the Government to enforce their own Constitution against themselves.

Eat it (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 6 months ago | (#46371781)

It can't do shit if it is unplugged

Laugh (1)

koan (80826) | about 6 months ago | (#46371829)

'If the government wants this information they're going to get it, no matter what we do with our gaming consoles.

Stop using them.

Re:Laugh (1)

Zuato (1024033) | about 6 months ago | (#46372569)

What about our cell phones that have cameras on both sides with microphones and GPS? We're freaking out over a Kinect sensor when the NSA is more likely to go after your smart phone than a Kinect sensor because it can gather more data from that device than a video game console could ever provide.

Re: Laugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46372895)

Get an old style prepay, the only distressing thing is you're a slave to tech.

Easy solutions (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 6 months ago | (#46371831)

1 - Don't support products that spy
2 - unplug when not in use.

Re:Easy solutions (1)

Zuato (1024033) | about 6 months ago | (#46372579)

1) Smartphones - are we going to ditch those since they can provide more information to the NSA/Government than an Xbox Kinect can?
2) I'd gladly unplug (turn off - still no guarantee since my Nexus 5 has a sealed battery) my smartphone, but since I'm expected to carry it for work (stipend) I can't exactly turn it off.

Re:Easy solutions (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 6 months ago | (#46372625)

My smartphone doesn't come from this country. I really doubt that the NSA has hooks into it.

Tape over the camera works for your 'work phone'.

Re:Easy solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46373105)

You would be surprised.

Ben Kuchera and Polygon (4, Interesting)

sexconker (1179573) | about 6 months ago | (#46371837)

Ben Kuchera is a fucking tool who has no business writing about anything. The same goes for Polygon.
Kuchera was one of the assmunches on the front lines defending MS's initial DRM and always-online schemes for the XBOX One.

His opinions were so bad and so obviously paid-for that he got kicked out of Penny Arcade for shit like this http://penny-arcade.com/report... [penny-arcade.com] (I think they pulled it down because it was so bad) and this https://twitter.com/BenKuchera... [twitter.com] .
Penny fucking Arcade realized how shitty he was, Yes, that Penny Arcade. The one run by the no-standards shills that did an instant 180 from gamers to tools once MS started paying them. The PA that bullies its own fans and offers a kickstarter to remove ads from their massively-profitable website, with stretch goals to remove more ads, but still not all the ads.

Ben Kuchera's internet fame was spawned from PA, and he became such an insufferable goon that even PA realized he needed to be cut loose. He shat around Arse Technica for a while and now he's shitting it up at Polygon.

We all know games "journalism" is about one of the most laughable things ever, but Kuchera and Polygon represent the fucking highest echelon of shilling, shit-flinging, and all around douchebaggery. There is zero integrity involved with Polygon as a whole and with Kuchera as a person. You shouldn't simply distrust their reviews, news, opinions, etc., you should actively trust it to be complete and utter paid-for horseshit.

Re:Ben Kuchera and Polygon (2)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about 6 months ago | (#46372065)

Kuchera sucks. Got it. Polygon sucks. Check. What about the actual article topic?

+10 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46372081)

+10

Re:Ben Kuchera and Polygon (1)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about 6 months ago | (#46372687)

So there is no privacy concern here? Cause I was worried there for a bit.

Re:Ben Kuchera and Polygon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46372937)

I dub thee, +5 Interinformative!

Re:Ben Kuchera and Polygon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46373265)

Oh, *that* Ben Kuchera. I thought the name sounded familiar.

I remember that he used to post a story on women in gaming every couple weeks with a radically feminist slant on PAR, get enraged when a bunch of commenters didn't agree with him, and then locking the comments on the story. Most unprofessional thing I've ever seen. You'd have thought he'd have leaned his lesson after the first one but he did it at least three times.

What a tool.

Outside of the rant (4, Insightful)

s.petry (762400) | about 6 months ago | (#46373753)

I don't mean rant in a negative light exactly, but that you are behaving similar to what you are complaining about. The Article is about how game consoles can monitor people, which does not have positive consequences for society and citizens. This writer and source is not the first to cover the topic, just the most recent. Spending 4 paragraphs telling everyone how bad the author and source without mention of the topic distracts from the article and topic.

Welcome to the game, if you were not playing intentionally you just became a sucker. If you were playing intentionally, well, go find a sand box and pound some.

People have been concerned about Xbox One and it's always on sensor arrays designed for spying. There was a recent report in the Guardian telling us that GCHQ used it to spy on people in Xbox360. There is no reason to believe that the latest will be used any differently, and no reason to believe that what GCHQ does also happens at the NSA, CIA, FBI, DHS, etc...

My family is smart enough to have boycotted all versions of the MS consoles. Yeah, we have owned PS2 through PS4 and some people have concerns with those. Most Sony PS concerns relate to the old Sony root kit issues however, and not some always on spytech filming and recording your every move.

If people want a fix to the solution, start boycotting. Remember that a boycott is not just not purchasing something, but actively persuading others to not purchase that same thing. It will take a lot to force change, because there are all these nice back door payments to companies so that they do the wrong thing (yet another Snowden/Guardian piece you should read).

Re:Ben Kuchera and Polygon (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46373939)

Welcome to the world of discrediting the messenger. Did you actually have a point to make about privacy or where you just here to attack someone?

You're playing the NSA's game.

I don't have a gaming console you insensitive clod (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46371849)

And, after reading this, I'm happy with that.

Simple (1)

Dripdry (1062282) | about 6 months ago | (#46371861)

Don't buy a console.

Until people complain in droves, it'll get worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46371881)

It's going to get a lot worse, because most people do not care. Bread and circuses.

Video game consoles for kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46372013)

Brainwash them early to be comfortable with 24/7 surveillance.

First they came for...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46372045)

"If the government wants this information they're going to get it" is only true if we let them. In a democracy this should be a achievable by the ballot box. Even if it seems we don't have anyone to vote for that's no excuse to surrender to the 'get over it' mantra; doing nothing is never neutral; it will always count against you.

Jews... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46372063)

... as usual...

'If the government wants this information they're going to get it, no matter what we do with our gaming consoles"

What, even if we don't have gaming consoles? Even if we don't have webcams, nor microphones, attached to our PCs?

This is all about the JEW. The eternal Jew. The Jew who has taken over your entire country. The Jew who runs the Federal Reserve, and almost all, if not all, of the banks, thus controlling the CREATION of almost all the money in your country. That means they control almost all the politicians, who they pay with that same, 'printed out of thin air' money. They control the entire media, which means they decide everything you get to see, read and hear in the media.

What is shechita?
What is kapporot?
What is bris?

These people are clearly sick and deranged, and they've brainwashed idiots like YOU to rush to their defence, whenever somebody dares to expose their crimes!

Planet is filled with tech illiterate... (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 6 months ago | (#46372231)

... morons.

Nowhere can this clearly be seen more than in the videogame industry, with the rise of STEAM DRM and the gullible people who lap it all up while gaming history (games you can own, modify, and not be spied on, watched, datamined) is going down in flames. Console players are among the most stupid on the planet, so videogame consoles would be an easy in for any government wanting to spy on its citizens.

The planet is just filled with stupid illiterate fucks who breed and pay for this shit because they don't have the brain cells to rub together to understand the implications sadly. They'll fork over any amount of money to feed their game addiction sadly all while being gouged, fleeced, DRM'd and DLC'd up and down six ways to sunday.

Re:Planet is filled with tech illiterate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46373365)

Actually, you're just one lone dumbfuck. The rest of us are fine playing our Steam DRM'd wares. And the ones we pirated before deciding whether they were worthwhile or not.

Stop being a douchebag.

Secure your things . . . . (1)

nehumanuscrede (624750) | about 6 months ago | (#46372235)

This possibility is why I don't OWN an X-Box One and why my existing gaming console ( which lacks a video camera and microphone ) is isolated to its own VLAN on my home network. For that matter, all the phones are on their own VLAN, the gaming console on another, the alarm system a third. I don't allow them to talk to anything other than the internet or ( in the case of the phones ) each other.

Don't really want the X-Box camera watching me when I walk through the house, the mic picking up my conversations, or any of the other devices being used as a jump off point of entry to the rest of my network.

Your phone has been spying on you for years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46372379)

Your phone has been spying on you for years and you never complained. And you take it with you everywhere. Your camera and mic can be turned on remotely, so a third party could eavesdrop on your surroundings through your pocket, can turn on the camera while you're talking to see what's around you. Everywhere you go, not just your living room (where you also likely take your phone). Amazes me all the Chicken Littles with their little chicken heads cut off.

How the Xbox One works (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46372417)

Originally the Xbox One required a CALIBRATED Kinect 2 sensor bar to be active at all times, and instructed ALL game developers, especially those with no need for ANY Kinect functionality in the main gameplay, to constantly check the functioning status of the Kinect 2, and to demand that users 'recalibrated' the Kinect, if it identified blockage of the sensors (like tape, or pointing Kinect at a wall).

Originally the Xbox One required a permanent connection to the Internet. The reason for these two requirements (only rescinded when market research proved that Xbox One sales would be disastrous unless these policies were altered) is no mystery.

Every Xbox One is constantly monitoring the people in the room, even when the console is "off" but still connected to the mains. Put a 'kill-o-watt' meter on both the Xbox One and PS4, and measure power use in 'standby'. You will discover the Xbox One is still pulling masses of power, enough to keep the 25% of Xbox One hardware dedicated to Kinect fully functional. Examine the Internet traffic from the console, and watch how the console is ALWAYS uploading and downloading at regular periods, even when the console is not in use. Of course, we are all used to MS Windows doing exactly the same thing on the desktop, with MS issuing various lame excuses for the traffic.

By unchangeable default, every Xbox One, even in standby or in the dark, is tracking every person who enter (or leaves) the room, taking high-definition photos of their faces, and uploading these images with datestamps to NSA servers that are in the so-called Microsoft 'cloud'. The NSA runs face recognition algorithms against the mugshots, and even if an actual name is not matched, still give the particular face a unique code - just like a fingerprint is still useful and unique even when you lack the name of the owner. The face recognition software is mostly the work of Google.

By unchangeable default, every online Xbox One registers that fact with NSA master-servers. Microsoft has provided the NSA with a complete list of encryption keys that are unique to each console. The key allows an NSA agent to order any onlne Xbox One to begin capturing, encoding, encrypting and uploading a video stream of user-controllable quality and bandwidth. Should the agent fear the sudden upload bandwidth may raise suspicion, Microsoft sets aside a large part of the internal HDD for local storage of such streams, so they may be uploaded at a less 'difficult' time, like when the target is asleep.

The Kinect cameras can see in the dark. The Kinect cameras can frequently detect heart and breathing rates of individuals in the room. The Kinect micophone array can usually hear conversations in adjoining rooms. The INCREDIBLY EXPENSIVE 'time-of-flight' military grade sensor that Bill Gates personally instructed Microsoft to spend billions of dollars to develop, while lousy for low-latency accurate video game input, is brilliant for identifying forms of human movement. Kinect 2 motion recognition has ZERO relationship with the god-awful bad joke technology Microsoft bought from a hopeless Israeli company for the original Kinect.

Via its Human motion processing, the Xbox One, for instance, can recognise the various forms of all Human sexual activity. This fact has massive significance. Snowden already leaked documents showing how mindless capture of video data by the NSA and GCHQ flooded the government goons with so much data, they didn't know where to look first. They WANT to, and do collect all available electronic traffic, but they crave automatic ways of knowing when it is 'interesting'.

Here's where the innovation of the Xbox One really kicks in. Bill Gates originally pitched to the NSA the ultimate in 'smart' domestic spying. A camera and microphone system that would be so smart, it would know WHEN to start recording, and when to alert the NSA. The Xbox One is designed to accept remote lists of 'trigger' conditions. The NSA can send to any given console or range of consoles a 'script' that controls when and how the Kinect spies on the occupants of the house.

So, for instance:
-record video if sexual activity is detected
-record video if a child is naked or undressing (how many Xbox One Kinect systems are currently observing the entirety of a child's bedroom 24/7?)
-begin recording if a given person enters the room
-begin recording if the sound of a gunshot is heard
begin recording if people are speaking in Arabic.

When an NSA script is active on the Xbox One, the user has no idea, and no way to discover the fact. Kinect 2 is purposely designed to give no indication what it is doing. The menu controls over the Kinect 2 are FAKE (they control user functions, NOT Kinect functionality). Microsoft has created a raft of 'user' services designed to give plausible deniability to HDD activity and/or Internet use. If a user notices the Xbox One has been inexplicably uploading large amounts of data (and the data is automatically encrypted, so its content cannot be user analysed), Microsoft personnel are instructed to pass this off as a 'malfunction' of the inbuilt 'gaming video' streaming system that allows users to share video of their gaming with friends or social media sites.

Today, Microsoft can say:
"it is MEANT to be photographing your face all the time, and trying to identify you"
"it is meant to be talking to the cloud all the time"
"it is meant to be listening to the room all the time"
and, best of all "if you insist on being a tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy nutcase that believes Bill Gates worked with Rupert Murdoch to create 'inBloom', is the prime mover behind 'Common Core', and proudly belongs to Eugenic organisations that have their roots in the early part of the 20th century and directly inspired the racial purity policy of the Nazis, by all means unplug your Kinect".

When Microsoft and the NSA panicked over the backlash against policies requiring always on for the Kinect 2 and internet, market research reassured them that if a person were so stupid they'd buy an Xbox One over a PS4, 95%+ of these idiots would willingly use Kinect 2 anyway, if even not one of their preferred games used Kinect in any useful way.

However, the children of these idiots don't get a say, when their parents place Bill Gates' ever watching eye in their bedrooms.

Google Glass
Google's hundred billion dollar project to build autonomous robotic battlefield tanks
Xbox One

This is the future they are building for Humanity.

 

when in doubt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46372425)

unplug

It's that easy, unplug.

If the NSA wants to watch me run nekkid... (1)

AmazingRuss (555076) | about 6 months ago | (#46372473)

...through the house going "WOO WOOOO WOOOOO!" every time I get out of the shower, I would not begrudge them the spectacle.

No, it isn't (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 months ago | (#46372783)

If the government wants this information they're going to get it, no matter what we do with our gaming consoles

I refuse to own a gaming console which is required to be connected to the internet.

I disconnected my XBox 360 when it started showing me ads, and since I don't play games online or use it to stream videos, I have no use for a game console which requires the internet -- especially if we have to treat the privacy implications as inevitable.

I'll give up gaming before I put an always connected camera in my living room.

Make me a gaming console which doesn't need to be connected to the internet, or don't expect me to buy one that does.

Duct Tape (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | about 6 months ago | (#46372947)

Duct Tape works on all kinda materials.Can be painted too .

Modern devices miss a real "power off" (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 6 months ago | (#46373303)

Another reason I'm missing a proper "power off" switch on many devices, besides the residual power use (wastes power, so wastes my money). One that physically, not electronically, breaks the power supply to the device. More and more of our devices do not have an "off" switch any more, it's really a "stand-by" switch. Of course that's convenient, as it's always listening for you to press the remote control "on" button for it to spring to life, it also means many other functions can be kept working secretly.

While there is no evidence that this happens on a big scale nowadays, as other comments mentioned (the telescreens from "1984", phones in the Soviet Union), it can be done either in fantasy or reality. Mobile phones are never off, they alway have to stay on to receive calls. And they carry cameras and a microphone. The laptop that I'm using now has a camera pointing at me, and it has a microphone. No way to physically switch them off, short of opening the device and cutting the wires.

You don't get it yet (2)

mattr (78516) | about 6 months ago | (#46373523)

Matrix multiplication means picking up where multiple factors can be combined to produce a high score. It can analyze threat = capability x intent. I think this approach can be used as much by the individual trying to get a handle on reality (multiply news by what you know is possible) as by a massive organization (crunch data streams to find exploitable juicy bits).
If you think this way you will be paranoid. But, if you just want to imagine where things can go if they get even worse than they are now, say if unlimited resources are deployed by utterly immoral actors, it can be useful.
For example, without formal training I came up with the above threat equation. After typing the equation into Google, it turns out that it is correct and part of formal risk/threat assessment calculations. I figure that's because it is common sense.
http://www.aci-na.org/sites/de... [aci-na.org]

Capability matrix:
Look. The entire data stream starting from the time a Kinect is plugged into electrical power can be automatically saved forever in a quiet data center.
XBox+Kinect is a very powerful listening device because of its smarts. It can download a program or search parameters and seek high-quality data, such as a conversation with a certain person's name in it, and filter it before sending it upstream. It can also compress a raw feed and gradually upload it over time.
So if anyone ever does something criminal or suggestive, like maybe your child has a party and someone does drugs in the living room, that data can be silently tagged and stored without any human's knowledge.
Any of your computers, or any computer ever in your vicinity throughout your daily life, or the lives of other people, can do the same thing. Just silently record at all times. There are too many ways it can be done in software. Free apps, buggy malware, browsers..
All phones, networked hardware, your car's On-Star navigation system and black box, can be additional channels.

Intent matrix:
Years later, if someone wants to find something on you they just make a mining query.
Queries can ultimately matrix multiply all locations x all channels x all individuals x all conversations files or positioning data.
Such as any conversation that mentions a target name or keyword ever held in front of anybody's XBox, personal laptop, tablet, wall phone, mobile phone, desk at work in any company. If you ignore any difficulty associated with processing/telecom/power/time capacity you will understand that rather than simply being "overheard" it is like you are leading your life by crawling over a jungle-gym moving from one data capture point to another. Your life over time and space, and those of all people with whom you interact, together become an immense transparent crystal object that can be observed at one's convenience from any angle.

Matrix Product: (exploitable output, or the threat)
Forget trying to end-run around the NSA, there is no point. But worry about other actors.
The U.S. data will be privately owned and controlled by other actors.
Any big company or country has a chance at subverting these streams and building their own global capacity.
A criminal organization could pressure a Verizon sysadmin.
The captured data does not have to go to court. It can be shown to someone else, or to you in order to embarrass you into tilting you towards a given course of action, for example if a target was shown video capturing an infidelity. The actor can dial in any degree of formality, truth or fairness.
Data that might have saved you (such as data proving innocence or entrapment) can be deleted, ignored, or modified in whatever private data center it is stored.
Parallel construction means all of this dark activity, a dark war against humanity, can be kept in the dark, but leveraged when some other expedient is selected.

Comments:
Once you or someone many steps removed who you don't even know has been targeted or an annotation has been made, all past and future activity can be scheduled for heightened investigation, including active installation of subversions to improve the data feed.
It can be quite impersonal, like a game of chess. And there is no way to remove your tag.
Since tangential conversations and proximity drive data insights, "living with sincerity and honesty" is irrelevant.
One might hope that automated moral agents (strong AI) might one day swing things in the other direction, but they don't exist except in science fiction at this point and anything close to it is owned by the organizations doing the collation.

SOP = BS (1)

globaljustin (574257) | about 6 months ago | (#46373859)

I love this, from TFA:

and that fear has been at least partially justified.'

that's equivocation....very harmful equivocation

Kinect's design is *evil* and to require critics to meet such a large burden of proof is inconsistent, illogical, and harmful to our industry

let me be clear...the 'fear' of Capitalist Big Brother is not "partially justified" it is absolutely a full realized FACT

to analyze the issue, claim expertise, then to equivocate in such a manner is **wrong**

it hurts our industry in untold ways, giving non-tech's a skewed idea of how tech works

The Xbox is just the forerunner, next; the HDTV's (3, Interesting)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about 6 months ago | (#46373899)

And that's just too bad as I'd love to bash MS and their Xbox. -PS4 future owner.

I just purchased a SAMSUNG UN32F6300AFXZA is it 120Hz or not being a running question? I use it as a 32" monitor, and it has one hell of a display http://www.newegg.com/Product/... [newegg.com]

This HDTV is decked out, WiFi and hardwired, lots of things to keep one occupied, even has it's own web browser, Voice commands, Turn on , Turn off (I guess), and, "Gestures" it reads your body language or maybe just your hand, and face recognition. What you might not see, is my reluctance to set it up to just a SamSung account.

As usual I read the ToS's and the privacy policy of the system when I set it up;( It's required reading or else you just click on ok and continue) It mentions the privacy policy in passing (a link) in the ToS's, When you enter the "Smart Hub" area your shown another privacy policy (previous link) that shows this HDTV is one hell of a data miner, what's collected is placed in a data base, kept and based as per South Korea laws (jurisdiction).

Why would it do this? It's for the "S Recommendation", "Find something good to watch. Simply click the recommend button on the remote to get instant recommended shows that are on now". (from link above)

Cause it should know who you are and what you like; if you've had this HDTV 6 months or more it should know you and your sister apart, or a request to "show me something dirty" could go horribly wrong.

A person with this set up in their place would most likely have it linked to the Lan, A Web cam setup to read gestures and face recognition, a microphone turned on for the voice commands. All the requirements of an Xbox plus more (the constant Internet connection) while not required to be connected all the time, most likely once it's set-up it will stay in that configuration.

I've looked and can't find a ToS or Privacy policy easily. I just know what I read and have sansung.com blocked at the router level for two reasons. I use it as a monitor and don't need it as an 240Hz LCD HDTV, my Panasonic 600Hz Plasma HDTV takes care of that feature poking fun at refresh rates and the big lie) - The second reason is Samsung tries to access and work with your FaceBook account and if you don't have one, highly suggest you get one. Facebook being a third party would have access to all of SamSung's data on you (no basis for that, would seem a given so to me).

I really would like to read the ToS again I positive it's against Samsung's ToS to watch pornography on this HDTV. :}

To opt out:
opt-out-shine-the-light-law@sisa.samsung.com
(Samsung may need to ask you to provide follow-up information in the order to duly process an E-mail request).

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