Interesting how things can go wrong

November 2010, Paris, IAPP Summit 2011, Lyn W. und David B. of Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing team speak in „Corporate Privacy Programs in Action – Xbox 360 Case Study“ about their work as Privacy professionals in general, followed by their specific engagement in the development process of Kinect (a new sensor for Xbox and PCs to electronically capture people with an aim to control the console and games with your body). They explain what sensitive personal data are captured, used and stored – or not stored in the case of small people since there is no way to determine if the person was a small adult or a children (remember COPPA). They speak about Privacy by Design and how that setup the team organisation, how to educate the independant developers who will use the device and softward development kit who likely will not have a Privacy professional at hand. And many more highly interesting facts, findings and learnings.

NB: why Privacy matters gets a new meaning of relevance from Jean-Philippe Courtois, President Microsoft Europe: „My 12-year-old daughter is a big fan of Dance Central on Kinect and particularly enjoys making me dance with her to Lady Gaga’s Poker Face. Considering those pictures taken, you can understand just how thankful I am for those strict privacy controls!“

May 2013, Microsoft announces XBox One, a new device to use the old Kinect device in old and new ways.  Spiegel Online, a German magazines first report is titled „Microsoft can now watch your couch“.  The device in question is still the old Kinect that has been out in the wild for a good while and it did not raise a concern before. Nor did they try out the existing device. It would offer clear language privacy controls. The most suspicious person could trace network traffic to see what is being transmitted. That all did not happen.

German Privacy Commissioner Peter Schaar says he’s „unsettled“ by Microsoft’s new Xbox One console, launched (announced ?) by the company last week. Commissioner Peter Schaar says the box „records all sorts of personal information that could be recorded and transferred to third parties. However, in the same interview he says accusations of spying in the living room are over the top.

Slate reads the Spiegel report and titles „The fact that Microsoft is now spying on my living room is just a twisted nightmare“. Seems they relied a bit too heavy on the electronic translator as they got the context upside down. A quick test with Schaar’s original statement on two translators shows a possible cause

Google:  „The fact that Microsoft now spying on my living room is merely a twisted nightmare.“

Bing:  „A twisted horror vision is that Microsoft now spied my living room only.“

Let’s recap

  • Spiegel: did they do their minimal necessary professional homework?
  • Schaar: did his job and put exaggerations right
  • Slate: their choice of translators may need a check
  • IAPP: reported the last event only (Slate’s view of things)


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