Microsoft is no stranger to controversy in the world of privacy, so it’s not too surprising that its flagship Xbox One console comes with such an extensive range of customizable privacy features. Users can configure dozens of settings, from how visible their gaming content is on Xbox Live down to whether a profile can connect to Live at all.
If you want to be sure your kids are kept safe and your living room isn’t being bugged by the microphone on your Kinect, here’s how to configure privacy options on your Xbox One.
To start, open up your settings menu by double-tapping the button, then pressing Y.
Find the gear icon at the bottom of the menu, and press A to continue. Press A again on the “All Settings” option.
To access your privacy settings, choose the option for “Prviacy & online safety”.
Note: If you previously set up a passkey on your account, this is a protected setting which requires you to enter it before gaining access.
Pick a Preset or Customize Your Options
Most of the settings in this tab control what information other users and friends on your friends list can see about you, but there are also a few that handle what types of data Microsoft collects from your console.
After you open the tab for Privacy & Online Safety, you’ll see three default privacy presets for the profiles stored on your Xbox: Adult, Teen, and Child.
Select an option to see an overview of its different settings. You can then select “View details & customize” for a more complete list.
Instead of having specific categories and sub-menus for these settings–like the PlayStation 4 does–Xbox just lays out each setting, one by one, in a long, horizontal menu. You can navigate this menu simply with the controller, and set each setting as desired.
When you customize your privacy settings, you’ll have total control over what information is kept public or private on your Xbox One profile. In the Adult preset (default from setup), information about you including your game activity and video watching history will be open to whoever wants to view it in the Xbox Game Hub, as well as anyone on your friends list. You may want to change these to lock down the social aspects of your profile.
Change Purchase and Multiplayer Permissions
While many of the privacy settings here only affect what information is publicly visible on your profile, and are pretty self explanatory, it’s worth highlighting a few features that change how a profile handles purchasing and multiplayer permissions.
To prevent a profile from being able to spend any money buying games, change the “You can buy and download” setting to either “Only free content”, or restrict purchasing completely by selecting “Nothing”.
To change whether or not a profile is allowed to connect to Xbox Live for multiplayer gaming, change the “Allow” setting to “Block” in the drop-down menu below.
Configure Voice Data Privacy
Lastly, users should be aware of two settings that control what Microsoft does with voice data recorded from the Kinect’s internal microphone.
(If your Xbox One didn’t come with a Kinect and you don’t have one plugged in, this section won’t be applicable to your profile.)
The first is the “Share voice search data” option. This controls what Microsoft records rom your Kinect microphone whenever you’re giving the Kinect a command, such as “Xbox On” or “Xbox Play Netflix”.
On default settings, your Xbox One will send these voice samples from your Kinect back to Microsoft. The company says this data is only used to increase the accuracy of its speech recognition software, and that nothing you record using the Kinect will be stored on their servers longer than 90 days. But if you want to disable it, open the setting and change it from “Allow” to “Block”.
This will prevent Microsoft from gathering any voice data that’s stored on your machine, as well as delete the backlog of content that was already recorded.
The second setting controls how the Kinect’s search data is handled anytime you use your voice to browse the web. Like the Kinect voice command data, Microsoft claims it only wants this information for “performance enhancements” to its network of speech recognition devices. Change this setting to “Block” to prevent it from sending your future search information to Microsoft, and wipe any similar data stored on the local hard drive.
Protecting the privacy of an Xbox One in your home should be a top priority, whether you’re just setting the console up for the first time or it’s been online for years. Wether you’re connected to Xbox Live or just shouting an order within earshot of your Kinect, our consoles collect more information on us than ever before, so it’s vital to know how to manage what data is visible and what stays out of sight.