By Thomas Cowley
Avid gamers are no doubt aware that the new Playstation 4 is appearing on the horizon like the towering, black monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey this friday. But what those with enough disposable income to afford one may not be aware of is the fact that Sony has recently claimed the ability to “monitor and record” all communications between users made over the PSN.
Sony claims that this practice has been implemented in order to “comply with the law” and to “protect the personal safety of our employees and users”. For those who care enough the exact text in the user agreement is as follows:
“Any information collected in this way, for example, your UGM, the content of your voice and text communications, video of your gameplay, the time and location of your activities, and your name, your PSN Online ID and IP address, may be used by us or our affliated companies to enforce these Terms and the SEN Terms of Service, to comply with the law, to protect our rights and those of our licensors and users, and to protect the personal safety of our employees and users. This information may be passed to the police or other appropriate authorities. By accepting these Software Usage Terms, you expressly consent to this.”
Sony has also gone on to say that it cannot monitor “all PSN activity,” suggesting that they are not listening and watching every time you play, just when you violate the rules.
That is the hope, but I'm far to cynical to believe that is the case. And I cannot help but fell a certain level of betrayal here from Sony. While they claim this monitoring service would only be implemented to enforce the law and protect its users, I whole heartedly believe that if this came from Microsoft, there would be a large public outcry within minutes. Is this not the very same concept that so many people, myself included, took issue with during the failure that was E3 2013? People praised Sony for many things including the lack of monitoring services that the Xbox One and Kinect was attempting to implement.
Why is it that every time I log into some online service I'm surrendering rights to some level of privacy? Perhaps I'm sound like a bit of a nutter but this is not an encouraging trend. At this rate buying and using a console in 10 years will resemble leasing a car or apartment, where I must promise to treat it ever so nicely and respect the wishes of the all knowing software companies.
What I do know is that I used to by a game console because it was the means through which I could play the games I wanted to. More and more however I feel as though these console manufacturers are attempting to rope me into a timeshare scenario where I must sign away privleges and only can use it under express written consent.
And the biggest item of shade amongst this shady nature is the fact that Sony waited until everyone pre-ordered, or paid, or saved up the money to buy one. Only once the ship has sailed have they told us it's true destination. At least Microsoft was upfront about it.