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.”


Original story…

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.

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6 Comments on Microsoft: “We Do Not Have Plans” To Sell Kinect User Data

Kev

On October 7, 2013 at 3:24 pm

“We don’t plan to” and “we plan not to” are two very different things.

AxΣtwin

On October 7, 2013 at 6:37 pm

I don’t know why they’re making a big deal about this now. 4 months ago leaked documents showed Microsoft had plans on selling biometric data to advertising companies to help place more personalized ads on a players’ dashboard. This was later confirmed by Microsoft when they said “users would be able to tell us not to sell their data by using the options menu”. This is a bold faced lie and anyone that has been paying attention since E3 knows this is a bold faced lie.

quicktooth

On October 7, 2013 at 10:53 pm

Microsoft has made it painfully clear that it wishes to be Big Brother as literally as it can. It has made it painfully clear it despises it’s customers and wishes to treat them like cattle. In what way is this latest emphasis of these things not a reason to “lower the pitchforks”? Their obfuscation is quite transparent; they WANT to sell the data Kinect gathers. Kinect GATHERS DATA. They can’t come out at say it DIRECTLY because that would get nearly all their customers to abandon them. But they are going to get AS CLOSE AS THEY CAN to saying it, because they want to advertise to all the people who want to buy our innermost secrets, what we do in private, etc. “We don’t plan to”, indeed. Actually, while they may just be *setting up* the process and are no longer sure if people will buy it (hence lack of immediate plans), their *desire* to sell our information is embodied in literally everything they’ve done since the lead up to E3. Gamefront, call a spade a spade, and call out Microsoft on it’s lies, obfuscation, and clear need to attack it’s paying customers. Come one. We’re not stupid.

Bob

On October 8, 2013 at 9:11 am

No one should forget that their commitment to protecting your privacy is meaningless when they are served with a secret court order demanding access to your kinect, not only will that access be given but they are forbidden from telling anyone about it.

malvarino

On November 1, 2013 at 2:56 pm

WOW!