Xbox 360 Kinect sensor identified as potential surveillance tool by British spy agency GCHQ

Friday, 28th February 2014 13:02 GMT By Dave Cook

Xbox 360′s Kinect censor was identified by British spy agency GCHQ as a means of possible surveillance, according to leaked papers published as part of The Guardian’s ongoing expose into digital privacy.


It follows the revelation that both the NSA and GCHQ formulated plans to spy on alleged terrorist activity being orchestrated within MMOs, including World of Warcraft.

Now; The Guardian has released details of a surveillance program codenamed ‘Optic Nerve’ that was used by the GCHQ and NSA to capture Yahoo chat webcam images from users not under any suspicion at the time. During an unspecified six-month period in 2008, the British agency is said to have collected images and ‘sexually explicit’ chat logs from some 1.8 million Yahoo users.

Leaked documents show that the GCHQ expressed interest in the Xbox 360′s Kinect camera, and considered using it in its surveillance program, due to it creating “fairly normal webcam traffic.” The papers also show that both the UK firm and NSA were researching the possibility of accurate facial recognition tools and eye detection cameras. One document said, “think Tom Cruise in Minority Report.”

MCV asked Microsoft to respond to the leak. They replied, “Microsoft has never heard of this program. However, we’re concerned about any reports of governments surreptitiously collecting private customer data. That’s why in December we initiated a broad effort to expand encryption across our services and are advocating for legal reforms.”

Speaking with the Guardian a GCHQ spokesperson emphasised the alleged legality of its work. “It is a longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matter,” they began. “Furthermore, all of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the interception and intelligence services commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee.

“All our operational processes rigorously support this position.”

What do you make of the above?



  1. TheWulf

    Can’t say I didn’t see that coming from a mile away.

    This is one of the reasons why I’ll be glad when we all move over to an open source operating system. That way, we can keep checks out for this sort of thing, and we can know whether our bandwidth is being abused. I mean, you can sort of check for this sort of thing in Windows, but I don’t have access to the kernel source, so how trustworthy that is is questionable at best. Especially since an NSA key was found embedded in the OS.

    The more open we go, the safer we are, that’s always the truth of things. I mean, another part of these leaks mentioned that various commercial encryption suites were purposefully made weak in a way that was revealed to the NSA, so that they could crack the encryption. Guess which encryption remains strong? Open source stuff like PGP, that’s what.

    These reveals made me feel really paranoid, I don’t like the idea of a surveillance state where everyone is found guilty until judged otherwise. I didn’t think that was the kind of world that any of us wanted. On the other hand, maybe it’s just human nature at work. Most of us thrive on domination and control through exploitation or violence, seeking property and ownership out of greed. Perhaps we just can’t stop this from happening because we’re all too scared of each other. Which is why I don’t think humans are good at managing humans.

    We’re too inept, controlling, paranoid, and xenophobic.

    #1 10 months ago
  2. X14EVR

    they can spy on me all they like i donft care only people have to hide have something to be worrid about (pc gamers) who always steal shit from gaming they havesomething to worry about but if your legit like an xbox owner they will like it that you buy all the games properly for the proper price

    #2 10 months ago
  3. Djoenz

    I’m seriously convinced you are just a sony fanboy trying to make genuine Xbots look bad. :P

    #3 10 months ago

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