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Xbox Live users: Beware the video game police

CBC News in Canada reports on Microsoft’s efforts to combat stupidity on Xbox Live. And trust me, there’s a lot of it:

Many gamers aren't aware of the fact that at any given time, they may be playing with one of these cops, whose job is to patrol and make the online world safe from video game miscreants. But they are there, and they're willing and able to dispense their own brand of justice.

Stephen Toulouse, lead program manager for policy and enforcement for Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox Live service, discussed his job in a keynote speech at the SecTor security conference in Toronto on Wednesday.

After his speech, he sat down with to talk about maintaining law and order in Microsoft's online world.

Toulouse: My team really handles three key things for the Xbox Live service. The first thing, which is our sort of bread and butter, is the terms-of-use stuff. I have a team that does that 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and what they do is pull complaints out of the complaint system. These are complaints that users have filed against other users.

The second thing they handle is some of the policies around privacy and security-of-user information. As I mentioned in my talk, it's a little bit about what are the reasonable expectations that a user might have about being marketed to and when are we going to hand that data over and when are we not. Those policies and procedures are basically subsets at the corporate level.

The third thing my team takes care of is any law enforcement requests. Subpoenas or things of that nature, where we might be able to help in an investigation. Maybe an Xbox is stolen, maybe there's information on the Xbox that law enforcement might need.

So. Hm.

Two things here.

First, I see abuse on Xbox Live every single day. People with offensive gamertags. People just being downright annoying, by doing things like playing their radio into their headset or just babbling incessantly. Cheating, particularly with two well-known glitches in COD5. (And why aren’t those fixed yet btw?) As far as I can tell, this is all talk. I’ve never heard of anyone being banned in any way on Xbox Live. It should happen more often, I can tell you that.

Second, I actually known Steven pretty well. As well as you can know someone that you’ve never physically met, that is. I’ve talked with him many, many times about various Microsoft security issues. He is absolutely credible and believable. I wasn’t aware that he was over working on Xbox stuff, so I wonder if this is a relatively new development for him. If so, maybe he clean up this town. It’s desperately needed.

Thanks to Taber B. for the tip.

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