Sony recently released a new PS4 update that appeared to be another small, incremental patch to improve stability. However, once the optional update is installed, a message appears informing European PS4 users that Sony “may collect data about this PS4 and how it is used.” While it is not clear if Sony is collecting additional data from before, the requirement to agree to such data collection does appear to be new.
The message states that two sets of data can be collected from your PS4. The first of these is service data, which Sony defines as “data necessary to provide online services.” The second–“additional data”–includes “navigation, usage, and settings data.”
A separate “about device data” screen states Sony needs to send, receive, and log data about which apps you use and content you consume. For example, it may need to know which shows you watch in a video app in order to pay licensors for that content, while some online games will need to know your characters’ movements in order to communicate that to other players online. Other service data includes your network configuration, devices you have connected to your PS4 (such as controllers and PSVR headsets), error data, legal data, and load time data.
Additional data, meanwhile, can include detailed information like “when and how you use the game’s user interface, which parts of the game level you visit, which weapons you use, and which characters you interact with.” It can also include which sections of the PlayStation Store you visit and which system settings you alter. You can decline to provide your additional data, but once you’ve installed the update there is no way to proceed without agreeing to the collection of service data.
Sony says it uses device data to produce anonymous statistics, understand and improve performance of new products, detect and minimize fraudulent or unauthorized behaviour, and, if you agree to the collection of the additional data, deliver you personalized ads.
GameSpot staff in the US did not receive the above messages. It’s not clear if Sony is accessing more data from European users than before the update or if it is simply disclosing its data collection more clearly now due to impending changes to data collection regulations in the European Union. The regulations, dubbed GDPR, come into force in May 2018, so Sony may simply be preparing for the upcoming change in law. GameSpot has contacted Sony for clarification.