The newly released PlayStation 4 version 8.00 software update rolled out to console owners today, adding a number of new features while taking away a couple of minor ones. Not mentioned in Sony’s update announcement, however, was a new notification that has caught players off guard and raised concerns about privacy — one pointing out that voice party conversations may be recorded and the audio may be made available to Sony moderators for review.
It’s always a great day when Sony releases a console update, at least when the update isn’t buggy and brings features users actually want. The new software update version 8.00 has, unfortunately, slipped in one particular notification that spoiled the entire release for some players: Sony now directly warns users that by joining a voice party, they’re agreeing to have their conversations potentially recorded and sent to Sony for moderation.
The unexpected arrival of this notification has, understandably, not gone over well with players, some of whom are confused about whether this is a new change or merely the explicit statement of what has always been buried in the Terms of Service. Spoiler alert: Sony updated its Terms of Service to include recording and reviewing players’ audio back in 2013.
News about the notification quickly spread through Reddit’s PS4 community, with players sharing images of the notification and raising concerns over the potential privacy issues it may introduce — amid the many expected jokes about the poor moderators and what they may hear in those recorded conversations, of course.
Based on PS4 users who have shared screenshots of the change, the alert appears in one’s Notifications menu post-update, with the alert reading: “Voice chats may be recorded for moderation.” Sony goes on to note that by joining a voice party, the player is agreeing to potentially have their conversation recorded.
When players access the full notification message, it explains that the voice chats may be recorded by other players who have the option of sending the audio to Sony for its moderators to review. This does, however, raise questions about where the audio ultimately ends up and the potential privacy risks that may accompany the moderation process.
Anyone can check out the latest PlayStation Software Usage Terms on the company’s website, with Sony noting, among many other things, that it does track its players when they’re online and that this can include monitoring voice communications:
Do we track what you do online?
14.1. Yes, but we can’t track all activity and we make no commitment to do so.
14.2. We may track and record your Software activity and remove any of your UGC that breaches these Terms, without further notice to you. Other users may record things they see and send them to us.
14.3. Information we get can include your content, voice and text communications, gameplay videos, the time and location of your activities, your real name, your PSN Online ID and IP address.
14.4. We (or our affiliated companies) use that information to enforce these Terms, to comply with the law, to protect our rights and those of our licensors and users, and to protect our community. We may pass this information to the police or other appropriate authorities.