#CyberFLASH: Video game companies are collecting massive amounts of data about you

tab-na-xmas-gamers19-101jpg.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxOTTAWA—For many of us unwrapping new video game systems this holiday season, the “terms and conditions” will be a vague memory between taking the console out of the box and finally getting to play Fallout 4.

But with more and more video game companies collecting ever greater amounts of data about their customers, privacy advocates are starting to warn about risks to gamers’ personal privacy — as well as the dangers in normalizing surveillance.

“A lot of people have argued in various circles that the fun applications of having your privacy invaded are actually, in a lot of ways, a gateway to getting used to sort of bigger changes,” said Alex Cybulski, a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto studying technology and privacy issues.

“You would probably be a little weirded out if you found out how widely facial recognition systems are used in a lot of contexts, but a lot of people didn’t really bat an eyelash when they were getting facial recognition systems in Facebook or on a camera that recognizes people’s faces.”

“People see those playful contexts and I think it desensitizes them a bit.”

Before we get into the scope of the problem — and what gamers can do to protect their information — we need to understand what kinds of information companies are collecting.
Cybulski argued in a recent article that, far from being a new development, surveillance and video games have gone together since at least 2005 with the release of the Xbox 360.

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