That’s not the boogie man your hearing go “bump” in your closet…it’s the folks at Sony.
It never ceases to amaze me. Just when I thought we were over the hump of controversial pipe bombs leading into the next-gen launch, Sony drops another. As I’ve stated in the past, at this point (only a few days out from the arrival of the PS4), most companies would be on autopilot. However, due to the heighted sense of mistrust regarding the next-gen consoles oversharing information and data mining our every move, both Sony and Microsoft have been stamping out fires left and right in an attempt to ease gamers’ minds.
However, if you believe they’ve taken at least one step forward in recent weeks, then the latest update to Sony’s Software Usage Policy must be considered two giant steps back.
First, if you’re a future PlayStation 4 owner, I think you should know exactly what you’re buying into when dropping your cash at the register. Specifically this passage:
“We reserve the right in our sole discretion to monitor and record any or all of your PSN activity and to remove any of your UGM at our sole discretion, without further notice to you…Your use of PSN and our community features may be recorded and collected by us or sent to us by other users as described in 13.1. 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 affiliated 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.”
Now, I’m sure we all accept the fact that we forfeit a certain level of privacy when we venture online. Facebook, Twitter and even our Google searches are subject to scrutiny (and if you have been following things like the NSA scandal, you know it’s more common than we may think). So, because much of our gaming activity is interconnected in the same way, it’s just a fact that these rules now apply to our consoles as well. I can accept that.
Here’s what I can’t accept.
The definition outlined in Sony’s description is very broad. Making blanket statements like “any information collected” and “without further notice to you” seems like a behind-the-back middle finger to gamers. I say behind the back because, frankly, those who don’t bother reading articles like this one will never really know what they’re agreeing to. Yes, it’s on them if they just blankly hit the “Accept” button in order to load up their next-gen launch title, but is it necessary for them to sell their souls to Sony in the process? Microsoft has also found itself in a similar boat with ambiguous statements it’s been forced to clarify in regards to advertisers accessing our personal data. Can’t Sony give us specifics? The way these statements are structured, it’s almost as if the company’s saying it intends to put up absolutely NO fight to protect its users’ privacy if someone outside of Sony (say a law enforcement or government agency for example) gives them even the slightest bit of pressure. Can’t Sony qualify these actions with some kind of precedent?
Now, I’m not saying we should protect criminals or douche bags that abuse Sony’s online services. Quite the contrary. Having them police this in some way to weed out this undesirable element is a good thing. Strike that; it’s a GREAT thing. But does Sony have to over reach this much!? If you were to spend ten minutes reading the Software Usage Policy, you’ll begin to see the level of control that Sony (and other companies with similar agreements) wants over you and your life.