Warning: *privacy not included with this product
Review date: Nov. 9, 2022
Sony's PS5 has been around since 2020 and demand is still so high it's tough to buy one. The PS5 comes in both a regular edition with a disc drive and the cheaper digital edition without the drive. Beefed up power and high-quality graphical output make games like God of War Ragnarok, Horizon Forbidden West, and Marvel's Spiderman: Miles Morales, fast and beautiful. All that, and they aren't terrible at privacy either. Here's hoping you find one this year!
What could happen if something goes wrong?
Not gonna lie, this privacy researcher loves her PS5. I also recognize it collects and shares lots of information on me. Things like name, email, phone number, location, and lots and lots of device information and info on how much I game (not that much, really, I’m too busy reading privacy policies), when I game, how good I am at gaming (pretty terrible, actually). Sony knows what obstacles I jump in a game, what levels I reach, who I play against, how many times I die, and more. Am I worried Sony knows I’m terrible at racing games, while kinda obsessed with Kassandra from Assassins Creed Odyssey? No, not really. It’s not like this is super sensitive data like is shared with, say, mental health apps.
Sony says they can use all the information they collect on you for things like targeted marketing and advertisements they show on their own and third-party websites and services. This isn’t great. It’s also not uncommon in our data economy right now. Also remember, when you play games from other companies on the platform, you may share your data with those third parties and their privacy policies would apply to your personal information. So many freakin’ privacy policies to just play games.
And Sony says they can share your information not just with third parties for advertising purposes, but also within the huge Sony Group -- which includes music, videos, software, and much more -- “so that other Sony group companies may contact you about products, services or other offerings that may be of interest to you.” So yeah, all that data about how bad you are at video games and who you like to play games with could be shared around pretty far and wide.
Also with the PS5, Sony now records all voice chats in order to combat abuse during online gaming. Users experiencing abuse can submit recordings--no more than 40 seconds--of abusive voice interactions to Sony for review. There will be no way to opt out of this. This tug-of-war between privacy and safety feels mostly fine to us, because something needs to be done about abuse in online gaming, especially abuse targeting women gamers. Just know, if you use the voice chat features on the new PS5 you are being recorded, although not actively listened to by Sony, at all times.
What’s the worst that could happen with your PS5? Well, it’s always smart to set up two-factor authentication to keep bad people from sneaking into your PlayStation account and buying a bunch of games at your expense. That could be costly and you don’t want that headache. And it’s good to be mindful all your voice chats are being recorded, so probably good to not shout out your social security number over voice chat (duh). All in all though, it seems from this gamer’s perspective the biggest privacy worry comes when non-male gamers try to talk over voice chat and get harassed out of the games by immature people. That really does need to stop.
Tips to protect yourself
- Set up two-factor authenticaion on your Playstation account immediately
- Be aware that anything said over microphone is being recorded
- Do not sign up with third-party accounts. Better just log in with email and strong password.
- Chose a strong password! You may use a password control tool like 1Password, KeePass etc
- Use your device privacy controls to limit access to your personal information via app (do not give access to your camera, microphone, images, location unless neccessary)
- Keep your app regularly updated
- Limit ad tracking via your device (eg on iPhone go to Privacy -> Advertising -> Limit ad tracking) and biggest ad networks (for Google, go to Google account and turn off ad personalization)
- Request your data be deleted once you stop using the app. Simply deleting an app from your device usually does not erase your personal data.
- When starting a sign-up, do not agree to tracking of your data if possible.
- Read Playstation's Safety Guide
Can it snoop on me?
What can be used to sign up?
What data does the company collect?
Name, email, phone number, address, date of birth
PlayStation friends and followers
How does the company use this data?
How can you control your data?
What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?
Security vulnerabilities have been reported in the PS5 over the past couple of years. In 2021, Threatpost reported back-to-back security breaches. In 2022, Ars Technica reported on a potentially "essentially unpatchable" vulnerability and another hack that could unlock root privleges for PS5 hackers. As far as we can tell, none of these security vulnerabilities resulted in a major leak of users' personal information.
Child Privacy Information
Can this product be used offline?
User-friendly privacy information?
Links to privacy information
Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?
You need a strong password to access your PlayStation Network account. You can set up a passcode for your PlayStation device.
Is this AI untrustworthy?
What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?
Sony is planning to employ AI via its Sony AI arm.
Is the company transparent about how the AI works?
Does the user have control over the AI features?
New PS5 exploit unlocks root privileges, read/write memory accessArs Technica
Why You Probably Need To Change Your Privacy Settings On PS5Slash Gear
Console hacker reveals PS4/PS5 exploit that is “essentially unpatchable”Ars Technica
PS5 issues: All the big PlayStation 5 problems to look out forTom's Guide
Critical Vulnerability In The Way Sony PS3, PS4, And PS5 Consoles Read Bu-Ray Discs Allows Rooting And Modifying The FirmwareInformation Security Newspaper
Back-to-Back PlayStation 5 Hacks Hit on the Same DayThreat Post
How to Manage PlayStation, Switch, and Xbox Privacy SettingsNew York Times
PS5 vs. Xbox Series X: Security and Privacy Features ComparedIGN
PS5 games could get even better thanks to Sony AITom's Guide
PS5 won’t actively monitor or listen to your voice chat, Sony saysPolygone
Sony clears up when and how it’ll listen to recordings of PS5 voice chatsThe Verge
Sony's AI-created PS5 soundtracks could react to your playstyle and emotionsTechRadar
Sony establishes AI R&D divisionGamesIndustry.biz
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