Microsoft: “We Do Not Have Plans” To Sell Kinect User Data
UPDATE: Microsoft provided some clarification on the below statement. Here it is, attributed to a Microsoft spokesperson:
“The first sentence is reiterating that there are no plans to use data collected by Kinect for these purposes. The second is underscoring our privacy commitment and that *if* in the future this was ever to become an option, users would be able to choose whether or not their data was used for this purpose. As the statement goes on to say, that commitment would also extend to helping ensure that it’s clear what data would be collected and how it would be used.”
Reports have been coming in that Microsoft is planning on, or at least seriously considering, selling Kinect user data to advertisers and other outside parties.
All the chatter is coming from a recent article on Advertising Age, in which Microsoft’s Corporate VP of Marketing and Insight Yusuf Mehdi talks about, among other things, how Microsoft can “bridge some of the world between online and offline,” for advertisers. This comes several days after a Microsoft exec confirmed on NeoGAF that Microsoft would not be using Kinect data for advertising.
Game Front reached out to Microsoft for comment, and we received the following response (emphasis added):
“The comments in Ad Age attributed to Yusuf Mehdi were not in relation to Kinect. We do not have plans to target ads or content to you based on any data Kinect collects. We have a long-standing commitment to your privacy and will not target ads to you based on any data Kinect collects unless you choose to allow us to do so. Furthermore, we will give you a clear explanation of what is collected and how it will be used. Importantly, we do not collect your personal information to share or sell to third parties, and you are fully in control over what personal data is shared. We have strict policies to protect your privacy and these policies will continue to be upheld with our next generation product.”
The two emphasized sentences are a bit at-odds with each other. We are asking for clarification on the phrasing, and Game Front will update when more information comes in.
Keeping the above odd phrasing in mind, the above statement is in line with what Microsoft said back in June about the Kinect and how data the sensor collects is used. Microsoft’s ad targeting program is opt-in, which means the user makes the final decision on whether or not his or her user data can be used for anything outside of the console, including ad targeting. Furthermore, if you do opt into this program, it’s all handled internally, not by an outside party that bought the data from Microsoft.
Could Microsoft change its Terms of Service in the future to allow for such advertising? Absolutely, but it’s not in the cards (at least the cards that the public can see), for now.
We all relish the opportunity to jump on companies that don’t respect the consumer. Game Front has done more than its fair share of calling Microsoft on its problems, particularly when it comes to the Xbox One, but we should all tread lightly with this latest development. In other words: Lower the pitchforks, if only for a moment.