Microsoft had a tough time selling gamers on the Xbox One and its (almost) always-on Kinect sensor during last week’s E3 Expo. This week, a pair of US Representatives want to block the monitoring features of the next-generation console before it’s even released.
Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA) and Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) introduced the “We Are Watching You Act” last week in order to protect the privacy of consumers from DVR boxes (or similar devices) that include built-in cameras and microphones. Verizon, who provides the popular FiOS service, filed a patent application for a DVR with video and audio monitoring capabilities in 2012. But, at this point, it’s unknown if they have such a DVR in development. So for now, the “We Are Watching You Act” is strictly an anti-Xbox One bill as the system’s Kinect sensor is the only device that meets the qualifications of the bill.
The “We Are Watching You Act” would prohibit companies from marketing this kind of monitoring DVR (or Kinect sensor) without first offering consumers the chance to opt-in to the service. The DVR/Kinect operator must also “provide specific details on how collected information will be used and who will have access to the data.” If you do chose to opt-in, when the device is recording it will display “WE ARE WATCHING YOU” in a font “large enough to be readable from a distance.”
While that kind of message might kill the immersive feel of a round of Killer Instinct, it might help with Watch Dogs.
And here’s where it gets messy. The bill would require manufacturers who sell devices that monitor consumers to create a similar device, without monitoring capability, and offer that as well, thus creating two tiers of Xbox One hardware. Rep. Capuano’s statement, and the full text of the bill, can be found at his official website.