A bit more on the Kinect and the NSA

Plenty of people are already weirded out at the idea of having the always-on Kinect of the XBox One in their house (Microsoft has said you can ‘turn it off’ but then you’re also always able to turn on the XBox with voice commands, so it has to be listening…). Spotted an article just now that talks about the potential concerns that the NSA could make use of it to watch inside your house.

Now the immediate reaction to that would be “oh come on, even they don’t have those kinds of balls.” You’d think that, right? But there are two little snippets of precedence there to be aware of, both listed in the above article.

1) We now know that Microsoft was providing access to the NSA to listen in on calls made by the Skype platform, which would otherwise have been private. So the company involved, at least, has provided this access to the government.

2) The FBI at least has shown that they’re willing to make use of such devices. There was a particular case where it was revealed that they’d been secretly activating the microphones connected to the OnStar system in cars to record conversations. An appeals court ruled against the FBI for doing so but not because it was a 4th amendment violation… they ruled because it might interfere with emergency calling. 

They then go on to point out the similar and very real issue of smartphones being tapped. I’ve mentioned the issues there previously. 

Anyway. The more you know.