Sony has released new details on how voice chats are recorded on the PlayStation 5 after the company was apparently flat-footed earlier this week when it released the latest software update for the PlayStation 4 system and unexpectedly caught users from the feature learned.
“We did not clearly communicate this feature or explain why we introduced it, and we apologize for it,” said Catherine Jensen, vice president of global customer experience for Sony Interactive Entertainment, in a PlayStation blog post on Friday afternoon.
After the PS4 system software version 8.00 was released on Wednesday, players saw a notification and a message on the console regarding the party chat feature. The note titled “About Party Safety” states, “Please note that voice chats at parties by other users may be recorded and sent to us. By participating in voice chats, you consent to your voice being recorded. “The message also states,”
Sony later updated its PlayStation blog post on firmware v8.00 to acknowledge the “About Party Safety” message and notification stating that the recording feature will only be available on PS5 when the console is on Starting November 12th, this feature allows users to send the recordings to Sony for moderation purposes. However, the entire episode raised eyebrows in the PlayStation community, particularly on privacy concerns, and prompted Sony to release more details on Friday.
All PlayStation users can file reports of abusive players they encounter online. However, only PS5 users can submit a voice chat clip along with a report. Jensen made it clear that PS5 users and PS4 users will be able to chat with each other at parties, necessitating the notice in Wednesday’s PS4 firmware update for a feature Sony apparently wanted to explain later.
“If a PS5 player needs to file a harassment report, they can include a voice chat clip up to 40 seconds long – 20 seconds of the main conversation with the other player and another 10 seconds before and after the conversation selection,” said Jensen . “Only the last five minutes of a voice chat are available to a player for this reporting function.”
Recording is enabled by default on PS5 and users cannot turn it off.
“There’s no way to turn this voice chat recording feature off as we want all users to feel safe playing with others online, not just those who turn them on,” Jensen said. Jensen emphasized, however, that “this function will Not Actively monitor or listen to your conversations. “Instead, the recording function is reserved for recording audio only to accompany reports of abuse or harassment.
It sounds like the PS5 is keeping a running record of the last five minutes of chat, but only one user can initiate the process of sending the audio to Sony. It remains unclear whether the recording function applies to all voice chats, including in-game chats, or whether it is limited to party chats only. (When players hear harassment or abuse online, it is more likely to come from random people they are engaged in a multiplayer match with – rather than from someone they invited to a party chat.) We asked Sony for clarification , and we will update this article with any information we receive.
PS5 users can send these reports directly from the console. You go to the Consumer Experience department at PlayStation, where moderators review the complaint, listen to the recording and take action if necessary.
The PlayStation Community’s Code of Conduct prohibits hate speech, whether used or advertised. threaten, bully, harass or persecute someone; encourage someone to harm themselves or someone else; or being “vulgar or offensive” among other things.
But behavior that deserves a sanction compared to that which can only be nervous or tasteless will not always be a clear case. “Some reports submitted are not valid and our team will use this as an opportunity to provide guidance and clarification,” said Jensen.