Microsoft Kinect Almost a Spy Tool for British Intelligence - Update

IanDavis

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Aug 18, 2012
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Microsoft Kinect Almost a Spy Tool for British Intelligence - Update



Along with the NSA, the British GCHQ stored huge volumes of webcam and chat traffic.

Update: [a href=http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2014-02-28-microsoft-concerned-about-claims-gchq-considered-using-kinect-for-surveillance]Microsoft has told Eurogamer[/a] that it's "concerned about any reports of governments surreptitiously collecting private customer data." Furthermore, it says that it's "initiated a broad effort to expand encryption across our services and are advocating for legal reforms," something it started after it was revealed that the NSA was [a href=http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/escapist-news-now/8567-NSA-Spying-on-Gamers-Microsoft-Responds]listening to players[/a] bicker over Xbox Live. "We're not aware of any surveillance activity," the spokesperson said. "If it has occurred as reported, it certainly wasn't done with our consent."


Original Story: It's not just the NSA that's caught with their authoritarian pants around their legs. Apparently, the British have been up to it too. According to The Guardian, not only has the British intelligence agency GCHQ been storing massive amounts of webcam footage, but it also considered [a href=http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/27/gchq-nsa-webcam-images-internet-yahoo]using the always-on Microsoft Kinect[/a] as well.

The information comes courtesy of (who else) Edward Snowden. The files document a project called Optic Nerve, which collected a huge database of private chats and webcam traffic. All of this was done through a joint system with the NSA. While it seems that the data was primarily collected through Yahoo Messenger, the GCHQ also considered using the Microsoft Kinect camera to peer into the private homes of citizens. The documents noted that the Kinect created "fairly normal webcam traffic", and was being evaluated for use in a wider program.

As you'd expect, the GCHQ also collected a remarkable volume of homemade porn. While it attempted some sort of filtering system, it ultimately said that analysts "who may feel uncomfortable about such material are advised not to open them." After all, it's the spooks who might feel awkward about spying into the private sex lives individuals.

It seems that Optic Nerve started back in 2008 and was active at least until 2012. The creepy bit is that these revelations only show what they were up to many years ago, not what they're doing now. So, if anyone had any misgivings about having an always-on camera and microphone constantly connected to the internet in your living room, your fears just got a bit more confirmation.

Source: [a href=http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/27/gchq-nsa-webcam-images-internet-yahoo]The Guardian[/a]

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Brian Tams

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Sep 3, 2012
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I don't think anyone was surprised by this. I mean, that was literally one of the biggest complaints about the Kinect being always on.

Also, is it just me, or is the Kinect just one glowing red eye away from being Hal 9000's cousin?
 

luvd1

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I can't wait for the new Bond film to feature a scene where James has to watch 5 hours of fat, nerd masterchief "fan fiction".
 

frizzlebyte

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Brian Tams said:
I don't think anyone was surprised by this. I mean, that was literally one of the biggest complaints about the Kinect being always on.

Also, is it just me, or is the Kinect just one glowing red eye away from being Hal 9000's cousin?
Oh, I'm sure some people are surprised by this. Probably the same people who cling to the notion that "slippery slope" is a legitimate logical fallacy.
 

SKBPinkie

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Man...I don't think I've heard a single bit of good news when it comes to the XBone. Like, really - is there anything good about that system compared to PC / PS4?

And I don't have anything to back this up - but I get the feeling that more people have switched to PC gaming this year than before. It might just be because I just did that and could be seeing it more often than usual, but stuff like this is reason enough for the shift.
 

martyrdrebel27

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This isn't news. Something "almost" happening isn't worth reporting. This is just more anti-xbone bullshit from escapist. I swear, since the new Gen launched, i feel like i see more bias against xbone on here. Even when ps4 had equally troubling issues. Annoying.

and i know I'm not the only one. When this first started becoming a pattern, i commented on a thread where others expressed the same concern.
 

Callate

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So they collected hundreds of thousands of hours of people staring gape-mouthed at their computer screens in the off chance that facial recognition software would catch something useful?

Sigh. Sounds legit. I feel safer already...
 

Brian Tams

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martyrdrebel27 said:
This isn't news. Something "almost" happening isn't worth reporting. This is just more anti-xbone bullshit from escapist. I swear, since the new Gen launched, i feel like i see more bias against xbone on here. Even when ps4 had equally troubling issues. Annoying.

and i know I'm not the only one. When this first started becoming a pattern, i commented on a thread where others expressed the same concern.
I think this is very relevant news. This confirms peoples fears that the always on Kinect can be used to spy on you, and that agencies have at least considered the idea. Remember, just because they haven't yet doesn't mean they won't in the future.
 

Hawkeye21

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Ever heard of UKUSA intelligence sharing agreement from 1946? Yeah, it still works today. Everything that UK, New Zealand and Australia gathers, USA has access to, and vice versa. To quote the latest amendment:

The parties agree to the exchange of the products of the following operations relating to foreign communications:-

Collection of traffic.
Acquisition of communications documents and equipment.
Traffic analysis.
Cryptanalysis.
Decryption and translation.
Acquisition of information regarding communications organizations, procedures, practices and equipment.
Big Brother is watching you, and is gossiping about you with his pals.
 

Jumwa

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But they hadn't decided yet to go ahead with it then or not when this information was gathered years ago. So I have faith in the government that they erred on the side of privacy and decency.

lol Just kiddin'. Of course they're doing it.

And my heart goes out to those diligent intelligence agents who have to sift through peoples personal lives and glimpse upon nudity. Those poor, poor souls.

I wanna puke from these jerks.
 

CriticalMiss

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SKBPinkie said:
Man...I don't think I've heard a single bit of good news when it comes to the XBone. Like, really - is there anything good about that system compared to PC / PS4?
But it's got TV and sports. That's two good things. Also there is someone from the government using the kinect to make sure nobody steals things from your living room whilst you are out!

I don't think this news is going to be very welcome at Microsoft when their beloved Titanfall is coming out soon. Even though the spying doesn't seem to actually be happening through the Xbone (hard to tell from the info given) it might just push a few people away from getting an one and playing Titanfall elsewhere.
 

idarkphoenixi

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And people called me crazy for saying this exact thing would happen with Kinect. Of course they will spy on you, it's a perfect tool for looking into your home
 

Gorrath

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frizzlebyte said:
Brian Tams said:
I don't think anyone was surprised by this. I mean, that was literally one of the biggest complaints about the Kinect being always on.

Also, is it just me, or is the Kinect just one glowing red eye away from being Hal 9000's cousin?
Oh, I'm sure some people are surprised by this. Probably the same people who cling to the notion that "slippery slope" is a legitimate logical fallacy.
If I may be "that guy" for a moment, slippery slope is a valid fallacy if the proposed consequence doesn't really derive from the premise. If one were to assert that it seemed likely that allowing the government to spy a little with no oversight, that they might very well end up spying a lot with no oversight, that's not much of a fallacy. If one were to assert that if we let gay people get married to each other, that we'd then have to let people marry their dogs, or an inanimate carbon rod, that's where the fallacy really comes into play.
 

InvisibleMan

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I can see them having to go through hours and hours of footage of hundreds of thousands of people masturbating... lovely!
 

weirdee

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OMG I'M SO SURPRISED!!!!!!111!!!!

I laugh if this is the cover story for the actual spying happening right now though.
 

SKBPinkie

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CriticalMiss said:
SKBPinkie said:
Man...I don't think I've heard a single bit of good news when it comes to the XBone. Like, really - is there anything good about that system compared to PC / PS4?
But it's got TV and sports. That's two good things. Also there is someone from the government using the kinect to make sure nobody steals things from your living room whilst you are out!
Yup. I cannot believe I didn't think of just how awesome those are. [/sarcasm]

On a serious note, though - there's only one thing that just might be good enough for me to pick up an XBone - Halo.

But that will be out at the end of 2015, so no hurries.
 

Kuala BangoDango

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martyrdrebel27 said:
This isn't news. Something "almost" happening isn't worth reporting.
I agree. Reporting on things that "almost" happen will only warn people of potential dangers in time to make changes so that those dangers don't become real in the future. That's not what we want. We want to wait until it's too late to prevent and the danger "actually" happens before we report on it.

Children being almost hit by cars at an unmarked intersection on the way to school? Ugh, don't wanna know. Knowing will only make us put in crosswalks or hire a crossing guard too soon. Much better to wait till AFTER some kids are hit and killed and THEN we can let people know about the bad intersection.

Just like all those silly Tornado/Hurricane warnings that make people board up their windows, turn off their gas, and even leave town. Won't they look silly if it passes them by as a near-miss. So much easier to wait till after the town is actually hit before announcing it that way whatever survivors are left can know that they can go ahead and board up their already broken windows, turn off the gas in their already on-fire houses, etc.

Climate change might destroy life on Earth as it currently exists? Meh, lemme know after it happens.

Life would definitely be so much better if we wait till after something happens to warn people.
 

martyrdrebel27

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Kuala BangoDango said:
martyrdrebel27 said:
This isn't news. Something "almost" happening isn't worth reporting.
I agree. Reporting on things that "almost" happen will only warn people of potential dangers in time to make changes so that those dangers don't become real in the future. That's not what we want. We want to wait until it's too late to prevent and the danger "actually" happens before we report on it.

Children being almost hit by cars at an unmarked intersection on the way to school? Ugh, don't wanna know. Knowing will only make us put in crosswalks or hire a crossing guard too soon. Much better to wait till AFTER some kids are hit and killed and THEN we can let people know about the bad intersection.

Just like all those silly Tornado/Hurricane warnings that make people board up their windows, turn off their gas, and even leave town. Won't they look silly if it passes them by as a near-miss. So much easier to wait till after the town is actually hit before announcing it that way whatever survivors are left can know that they can go ahead and board up their already broken windows, turn off the gas in their already on-fire houses, etc.

Climate change might destroy life on Earth as it currently exists? Meh, lemme know after it happens.

Life would definitely be so much better if we wait till after something happens to warn people.
nice try, but the difference there is that in your examples, you're listing imminent dangers, not something that was talked about and never happened.
 

CpT_x_Killsteal

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Did anyone really not expect this? I mean come on, the Kinect is ALWAYS running. And, not to be a conspiracy theorist or anything, but it strikes me as strange MS would stick with the always on Kinect so vehemently, and even their old always online DRM policy for as long as it lasted.
martyrdrebel27 said:
This isn't news. Something "almost" happening isn't worth reporting. This is just more anti-xbone bullshit from escapist. I swear, since the new Gen launched, i feel like i see more bias against xbone on here. Even when ps4 had equally troubling issues. Annoying.

and i know I'm not the only one. When this first started becoming a pattern, i commented on a thread where others expressed the same concern.
Someone bought the Xbone I see XD.
Anti-Xbone? Never heard that term before. Anyhow, the reason the Xbone has more bad press than the PS4 is because there're more troubling issues and problems with the Xbone. The PS4's issues have been reported on each time they cropped up, as far as I know, when comparing with other sites.
What's more surprising is that you seem to think no government, including your own, would dare to use an, always on, webcam for spying even after it's already been reported they have used PCs for the same. Although this thought seems to be clouded by the fact you bought one gaming system over the other and you feel you must defend said decision.