Many are acutely aware of privacy catches associated with social media apps but neglect to consider their online privacy on game consoles.
With the PS5’s fun multiplayer experiences, stunning 4K visuals, and ray tracing, privacy isn’t usually top of mind. But it only takes one quick trip to its privacy settings to recognize it’s worth looking at and tweaking.
Unlike the PS4 that came before it, the PS5 has a mic built right into its DualSense controller. That means privacy is officially a big deal on Sony consoles. What you blurt out can potentially be captured and used as a key data point by the company. In fact, it’s recently been confirmed that the PS5’s controller automatically records anything you say after unlocking a trophy.
Sony is also collecting other user behavior data such as the games you play, plus audio and video content you stream. Other data such as time spent in games, upload and download speed, and game libraries are also being uploaded to Sony’s servers and analyzed.
It’s unlikely they’re spying on gamers. Rather the data is used to improve Sony’s software and products. Regardless, if the idea of your every action being tracked bothers you there are steps you can take to regain your privacy.
1. Limit Data Sent Back to Sony
To get started, launch your PS5 and drill down into the privacy settings:
Settings > Users and Accounts > Privacy > Data You Provide
For the PS5 to function correctly it needs to collect some data. However, you’re free to turn off sharing of your behavioral data. Thus, Sony gives users two options:
Full – Share behavioral data to help us continually improve and personalize your experience.
Limited – Share only data necessary to maintain and operate core PlayStation features and services.
Select ‘Limited’ for greater privacy.
Next, scroll down to see other data Sony is collecting and to access additional privacy settings.
2. Turn Off Voice Data Collection
You can also disable voice data collection without affecting the PS5 DualSense controller’s ability to accept voice commands.
There’s no way of knowing what Sony is doing with the various voice recordings it collects or the extent of what is being captured. Sony has said they don’t record audio used in voice chats. No statements have been made about audio within videos. And what about things you say when you think your mic is off, but it isn’t?
Access the following menus to turn off voice data collection:
Settings > Users and Accounts > Privacy > Voice Data Collection
Once again there are two options. And it’s super straightforward.
Allow – Use your voice data to improve voice features.
Don’t Allow – Don’t use your voice to improve voice features.
Select ‘Don’t Allow’ so Sony can’t potentially collect private statements or your conversations.
3. Turn Off the PS5’s Mic Entirely
Do you rarely use the PS5’s mic and voice command features? If that’s the case you may want to set up your PS5 so the mic is off when you’re logged in, or manually turn off the DualSense controller’s mic when it isn’t needed.
To manually turn off your mic, tap the ‘Mute’ button located under the PS button on your controller. If the button is lit up orange that means the mic is off. Additionally, you’ll also briefly see a mute notification icon appear in the top right corner of your screen.
A bit on the forgetful side when it comes to details? Keep your mic turned off by default when you power up your console. Go here:
Settings > Sound > Microphone > Microphone Status When Logged In
Move down to ‘Microphone Status When Logged In’ and choose ‘Off.’
4. Don’t Include Mic Audio in Video Recordings
Many gamers like to include ad-libs and commentary in their gaming videos. If you’re the type that’s only interested in capturing gameplay there’s no need to capture audio with your mic. Go here:
Settings > Captures and Broadcasts > Video Clip Format > Include Your Mic’s Audio
Turn off ‘Include Your Mic’s Audio’ so speech and background noise aren’t captured in your videos.
5. Switch Off Video Recordings When Trophies Are Unlocked
Ah, that moment of glory when you unlock a hard-to-achieve trophy. The PS5 records a short video to commemorate the moment along with audio from your mic.
It’s a fun feature but it also has privacy implications. Voice data associated with this feature is sent to Sony. The videos also take up plenty of hard drive space, particularly if they’re being recorded in 4K.
If trophy videos don’t interest you, disable them here:
Settings > Captures and Broadcasts > Trophies > Save Trophy Videos
Recommended: Gain Better Privacy by Using a VPN
If you want your online privacy to be the best it can be on the PlayStation Network, you’ll want to consider using a VPN.
A virtual private network, or VPN for short, is an encrypted tunnel that goes between your PS5 and the internet. It hides your true IP address and location and replaces it with an IP associated with the country of your choice.
VPNs protect you from malicious users on the PlayStation Network. It also gives gamers greater anonymity. VPNs can prevent companies and third parties from collecting data about you. And if they do manage to collect your data the VPN makes it impractical for them to associate the data with your true identity.
It’s time to take privacy seriously on game consoles like PS5. By default, your activity is tracked but thankfully Sony has made it fairly simple to opt-out of this within your ‘Settings.’
The fact that Sony gathers voice data from PS5 gamers is particularly alarming. Their DualSense controller has a mic built-in and that’s easy to forget if you don’t use the mic often. Thus, out of everything covered here, it’s important that you turn off ‘Voice Data Collection.’ Regardless of what Sony is doing with the voice data, the fewer devices that are listening for long stretches of time in your home the better.