Sony released the latest PlayStation 4 firmware on Wednesday, system software update 8.00, which included an initially unannounced feature: Sony can now record voice chat audio, which users can submit to the company for “moderation review.”
“Voice chat recording for moderation is a feature that will be available on PS5 when it launches, and will enable users to record their voice chats on PS5 and submit them for moderation review,” Sony said. “The pop up you’re seeing on PS4 right now is to let you know that when you participate in a chat with a PS5 user (post-launch), they may submit those recordings from their PS5 console to [Sony Interactive Entertainment].”
On PlayStation 4, users will see a warning when joining voice chat that reads, “Voice chats may be recorded for moderation. By joining, you agree to being recorded.” And PS4 owners will now see the following explanation under “About Party Safety” in the console’s Party Settings menu:
We want PlayStation Network to be fun for everyone, which is why we have a Community Code of Conduct.
Please be aware that voice chats in parties may be recorded and sent to us by other users. By participating in voice chats, you agree to have your voice being recorded.
When behaviors that violate the Community Code of Conduct are reported, PlayStation Safety will review the reports to check if there have been genuine violations.
These recordings will be used only for safety and moderation purpose by PlayStation Safety.
According to PlayStation’s Community Code of Conduct, PlayStation Network users may not use or promote hate speech; threaten, bully, harass, or stalk anyone; “be vulgar or offensive”; or encourage anyone to hurt themselves or someone else, among other rules.
Sony’s move to record chat audio (and moderate user accounts based on it) has raised privacy concerns for some players, but may be effective in cracking down on abuse and harassment delivered through voice chats on PlayStation Network. The new feature appears to be applied to PlayStation Network chat by default, and users do not appear to have the ability to opt out from having their audio recorded.
Polygon has reached out to Sony for additional details about voice chat recording, and will update when the company responds.