Sony will let PS5 owners record their voice chats and snitch on fellow players

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Some PlayStation 4 users who downloaded the latest 8.0 update got an unwelcome surprise this morning: their console informed them that Sony had the right to record their voice for moderation purposes.

Here’s a couple examples:

Initially, the update’s release notes contained no mention of voice recordings. But at some point today, Sony clarified what the messages meant in an update to its official blog post.

Here is Sony’s exact language:

Following this update, users are seeing a notification about Party Safety and that voice chats in parties may be recorded. Voice chat recording for moderation is a feature that will be available on PS5 when it launches, and will enable users to record their voice chats on PS5 and submit them for moderation review. The pop up you’re seeing on PS4 right now is to let you know that when you participate in a chat with a PS5 user (post-launch), they may submit those recordings from their PS5 console to SIE.

To translate that statement, it seems that by joining a voice chat, even with the older PlayStation 4, your voice can be recorded and submitted to Sony for moderation by another user. This could certainly be invasive — in theory, anything you say in a voice chat could be sent to Sony without your explicit consent. But the feature could also be a useful tool to help people report bad party members that may be harassing them.

Based on Sony’s language, it doesn’t seem as if Sony is actively listening to all of your conversations you’re having with your pals during your latest rounds of Fall Guys.

The 8.0 software also changes the way parties and messages work and adds new avatars, parental communication controls, and support for authenticator apps for two-factor authentication.

And in another move to prepare for the PS5’s launch, Sony has rebranded the PS4 Remote Play mobile, Mac, and PC apps to PS Remote Play, and you’ll be able to use the app to connect to a PlayStation 5 when the new console launches next month.

Comments

anything you say in a voice chat could be sent to Sony without your explicit consent.

That’s beyond worrisome and almost verges on illegal in two party consent states as you’re not able to explicitly say which chat is being recorded and which isn’t.

completely legal amigo

How so?

Party Safety and that voice chats in parties may be recorded. Voice chat recording for moderation is a feature that will be available on PS5 when it launches, and will enable users to record their voice chats on PS5 and submit them for moderation review.

It sounds like it’s in party chat which is typically for friends and groups. This isn’t general chat in all games. This is akin to mobile phones that can record phone calls; however some states have explicit laws that you need to inform the person being recorded that they are being recorded otherwise it’s illegal. Sony just saying someone CAN do it doesn’t mean that it allows the individual to do it without permission.

It’s like when you call customer service and they say you may be recorded. You accept this by staying on the line.

Don’t know about the US, but in Europe you have to press a button to consent being recorded when calling customer service (at least in all European states I lived in so far – or maybe this is just the way most companies handle it)…

I do have to correct myself. Wikipedia has a great article summarising the law for a couple of states. The two party consent does not apply to every state in Europe.
But I don’t really see this getting any easier for Sony.

Not in the UK through so there no general EU law for having to press a button.

Right but when you call customer service you are consenting to the recording of that particular conversation.

But as the original comment said, on PSN you aren’t aware of what conversations are being recorded and which are not. That’s where I’d have a problem for sure.

Why not all conversations? My call can be transferred all over, and I don’t think that negates the earlier message that my call may be recorded.

Don’t know how legally sound this recording is unless every time you join a party or public chat Sony plays a warning to that nature. I think with these laws the warning has to be up front and explicit, not buried in TOS somewhere.

When you see the pop-up saying you may be recorded, you’re being informed that you may be recorded. Once you’ve been informed that you may be recorded, you no longer have an expectation of privacy and your consent can be assumed because you’re continuing in the chat. You’ve also likely agreed to all sorts of stuff you don’t realize in Sony’s terms of service.

I mean no one can really say that with certainty. Law suits exist for a reason and TOS agreements don’t have supremacy over the law.

It’s probably the case it’s legal. Sony’s lawyers certainly think so. But until a court says yes or no, it’s probably wiser not to tell people they don’t have rights.

No legitimate harm has ever come from recording customer service calls; but this has the potential to. Consider that Sony has a duty to report crime if they possess evidence. And then think of the sort of braggadocio that is rife on these things.

TLDR; it’s more complicated than a pop up can definitively solve.

You accept it when you are that message and keep going. And it’s in the terms of service. Just like discord

Ever hear about this thing called Twitch TV? that not only records everything that your teammates say, but is live broadcast for general public to watch you in game and allows other people to monetize and profit off of their recordings of you in game?

Sony is just adding a button to send for moderation, if you think your ingame chat or voice in games hasn’t been recorded or uploaded by other players already I think you need to crawl out from under the rock. I know i’ve showed up in other people’s youtube videos.

Actually it is illegal unless they black out player names. They never stream the chat in game either which is also illegal. There has actually been lawsuits about this and they were won in favor of the plaintiff.

"I felt a great disturbance in the Network. As if millions of misogynists, racists, and homophobes cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. I fear something wonderful has happened."

It’s not just them (they deserve it) but this is very worrying on what is offensive and not. Imagine if you’re telling someone to "shoot him in the head" when taking down a boss. Out of context a statement like that is awful, but in that context it’s a way to play Destiny 2. Who and how are moderations determined?

Nobody would ever be banned for shoot him in the head. Even out of context it’s not bad.

Well then take a joke that might seem inappropriate out of context.
It doesn’t really matter what example you use – having everything recorded and possibly using snippets of said recording out of context is not a good idea. Even very well written political speeches are sometimes taken out of context, changing the original meaning significantly. I fear that spontaneous speech will suffer more from this…

I doubt it. It’s a gaming platform, not exactly the medium for expression of speech and unless your friends report you who will? It’s party chat after all.

If you upset your friends enough for them to report you then maybe you were out of line?

Yea just like streamers getting banned because of what they do offline. Yep this in no way is going to end badly. Worst idea ever.

Who and how are moderations determined?

Common sense

One of the many things lacking in Society in 2020. May God have mercy on all PSN users souls. Everyone about to get banned whenever they say "that’s what she said" and someone takes offense to it.

Imagine if you’re telling someone to "shoot him in the head" when taking down a boss

You understand this is a video games platform, right?

Nope lol apparently not

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