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Xbox One's potty-mouth crackdown suggests Microsoft snooping

Gamers claim they are getting banned because the Xbox heard them swearing, suggesting Microsoft may be listening in on users when it shouldn't be.

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Credit: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

As if your parents weren't enough, now it seems the Xbox One wants to wash your mouth out with soap, too.

Despite promises from Microsoft that it would not eavesdrop on customers with the Kinect or Skype, gamers online are saying they have been banned from Xbox Live for using foul language, and not against other people, either. They were just cursing in frustration over something.

Xbox users allege that Microsoft banned them from using Skype or the Xbox Upload Studio because of "past behavior." The past behavior was people who used foul language while they uploaded videos to SkyDrive.

"I think it's strange that MS allows you to record any game footage when there are games with really bad foul language and I say something like plonker or c*ap and I get my benefits removed esspecially I had 100% feedback when I was on 360 for about 5-7 years on Xbox Live," wrote one user, clearly a Brit with his choice of slang. "Plonker" is UK slang for "idiot."

"I had a few friends over to have a a bit of a xbox one night.We recorded a picture in picture reaction to a goal my friend scored on fifa. A lot of profanity later I have the same message as everyone else," wrote another, who added a screen shot.

The message from Microsoft in and of itself is like giving people the finger. They are told "Go choose something else to play," followed by the message they are banned from Xbox Live due to past behavior.

Also, in an article on the issue, Gizmodo said people are being banned for Skype swearing as well. A Microsoft spokesman sent me this comment denying Skype monitoring:

“Microsoft does not monitor communications in Skype for Xbox One. However, Xbox Live may issue a general communications ban in response to violations of the Xbox Live Code of Conduct (http://www.xbox.com/en-US/Legal/CodeOfConduct), which does affect Skype usage. For more information on enforcement of violations, please reference Xbox Live Policy and Enforcement (http://enforcement.xbox.com)."

However, Microsoft said something a little different to the gaming site Polygon:

"To be clear, the Xbox Live Policy & Enforcement team does not monitor direct peer-to-peer communications like Skype chats and calls," the representative wrote. "Also, we take Code of Conduct moderation via Upload Studio very seriously. We want a clean, safe and fun environment for all users. Excessive profanity as well as other Code of Conduct violations will be enforced upon and result in suspension of some or all privileges on Xbox Live. We remain committed to preserving and promoting a safe, secure and enjoyable experience for all of our Xbox Live members."

All of this will make great hay for Sony to use against Microsoft. I can see the commercials already. Microsoft has already been accused of snooping on Skype conversations. Once is a mistake. Twice and it's a pattern. If these allegations continue, Microsoft is going to lose all trust of its users, because no one will think they are stopping at just Skype. People will ask where else is Microsoft snooping – Outlook, Dynamics, Azure, Bing, etc. – and in the end, shun the company.

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