A news report says that Sony plans to record your conversations at or near its new PlayStation 5 game console. However, I suspect there's more to it than meets the eye. Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.
PlayStation maker Sony this week rolled out a new software update to allow gamers to record their online voice chats for moderation purposes.
“Please be aware that voice chats in parties may be recorded and sent to us by other users,” Sony is now telling gamers who have strapped on a headset to play with their friends online. “By participating in voice chats, you agree to your voice being recorded.”
The feature will go live when the PlayStation 5 is released next month. Recordings of potentially offensive content can then be sent to moderators to review for violations of the PlayStation code of conduct.
PlayStation’s rules ban hate speech, threats of harm, bullying and harassment as well as “[encouraging] anyone to hurt themselves or someone else.”
It does not appear that users will have to give permission for their audio to be recorded.
There's more at the link.
This might be typical "woke" Social-Justice-Worrywart behavior. Sony might, indeed, want to hear whether you make racist or otherwise objectionable comments, and "discipline" you for them in accordance with the company's Terms of Service. However, there's a broader implication.
Too many homes already have so-called "smart speakers" (e.g. Amazon Echo, Google Home, etc.) These use "virtual assistants" (e.g. Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, etc.) to listen for your voice and respond to verbal instructions. However, they also record you, whether or not you're actually speaking to them, and may retain that recording for an indefinite period. There have already been subpoenas issued for such recordings by prosecutors trying to use them to prove, or disprove, criminal cases. For one example, see here. You have at least some control over such recordings, and may be able to delete them at your discretion, but let's face it: once something's recorded and "in the cloud", how can you ever be sure it's actually been deleted? There are always backups here, or research data there, and no-one can ever be certain that your recording(s) haven't been included. There's also the risk of hacking, both from criminal sources and from news media and other commercial sources in search of information (as happened to Britain's Royal Family some years ago).
Now we have to add game systems to this surveillance morass. I'm sure Sony won't be the only manufacturer to include such technology in its systems - technology that you can't control, that it can use at its discretion, and that you can't delete even if you want to. Note that Sony itself doesn't have to record your conversation. Others with whom you're playing can do so without notifying you, and send the recordings to Sony if anything you say offends them. In so many words, Sony is co-opting its nosier users into a Big Brother network. It's a Karen's dream!
Furthermore, what makes you think Sony and others will restrict such submissions to an adjudication process for violations of their Terms of Service? Are you telling me they won't "mine" such records to train their artificial intelligence and voice recognition systems; to determine what you plan to buy or sell, so they can market your information to advertisers; and to figure out what you're looking for in games, so they can tell their developers what features they should add to future products? Of course they will! They don't give a flying fart for your privacy - they only care about their own interests. They're not even going to ask for your permission to record you. They're simply going to do so as of right, as a condition of service.
What's more, all these databases and records are increasingly linked together, either formally or informally. With so much data being held in the cloud, it's all too easy for advertisers to pay individual companies to extract data from their clouds for research purposes, then link those packets of data with others from different companies to develop a profile of an individual. Yes, I know corporations claim that such data is "anonymized", but it's surprising how often that can be overturned and individuals can be traced. It's already happening.
Sadly, pressure on our legislators to pass laws banning such practices almost certainly won't work. Such companies can easily afford to pay large "consulting fees" and "campaign contributions", and offer free all-expenses-paid trips to luxurious overseas destinations where the legislators can "conduct research" (usually on the beach or in a casino, well supplied with nubile "companions"). Odds are that nothing will be achieved; or, if it is, it'll have "back door" provisions that companies can use as loopholes to exploit our data anyway.
Trouble is, those most likely to use game systems - kids, teens and young adults - are either unaware of such risks, or don't care about them. They have little or no conception of privacy, of the sort that I grew up to expect and require. I suspect that may be deliberate on the part of the big technology companies. If they can persuade their users that privacy doesn't matter, then they'll be free to go on mining their users for all sorts of commercially valuable information. They've got every incentive to continue intruding into any and every area of our lives.
I think the only answer will be to eschew invasive technology. I don't have smart home technology in my residence, and I hope I never do. If I'm forced to use some such item(s) in future (because "dumb" alternatives are no longer available), then they'll be the most primitive and least "smart" I can get away with - or I'll buy ones where I can physically cut off their ability to "call home". That most certainly includes game systems!