• PS5 will allow gamers to report verbal harassment through a new voice chat reporting function
  • Voice chat recording is solely meant to curtail online harassment and abuse, Sony says
  • There won't be an opt-out option for the voice chat recording function

Sony has apologized to PlayStation users for the confusion over a PS5 feature that will let users record their voice chats and submit them for moderation review. The company clarified that this feature is meant to protect players.

Two days ago, PS4 players caught wind of something in the system software update 8.00 that had them feeling like Sony encroaching on the privacy of their audience.

“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 your voice being recorded,” the note spotted by PS4 players stated. “These recordings will be used only for safety and moderation purposes by PlayStation Safety.”

The wording was interpreted by many as ambiguous enough to cause some minor panic online. After all, nobody wants to have their private conversations recorded, much less listened to by anyone not privy to the contents of the conversation.

On Friday, Catherine Jensen, Sony Interactive Entertainment’s vice president for global consumer experience, said in a PlayStation Blog post, “We didn’t clearly communicate this feature or explain why we were introducing it, and we apologize for that.”

Sony explained that the recording feature would be a PlayStation 5 exclusive function and would allow users to submit recordings to Sony solely for moderation purposes. The reasoning behind the new function was to monitor abusive behavior.

Still, a function like this can easily be abused by others beyond whatever benefits Sony may have intended to provide. All kinds of privacy issues can easily be raised, particularly since the PlayStation 5’s DualSense controller has a built-in microphone to easily record and submit conversations.

“If a PS5 player needs to file a harassment report, they will be able to include up to a 40 second-long Voice Chat clip in their report — 20 seconds of the main conversation with the other player, plus an additional 10 seconds before and after the conversation selection,” said Jensen. “Only the most recent five minutes of a Voice Chat will be available for a player to use for this reporting function.”

Recording, as it turns out, is enabled by default on the PlayStation 5. Users will not have the ability to disable it.

“There won’t be an option to opt-out of this Voice Chat recording function because we want all users to feel safe when playing with others online, not just those who choose to enable it,” Jensen explained.

In an attempt to put everyone’s minds at ease, Jensen added, “This feature will not actively monitor or listen in on your conversations — ever.”

This ability to record is reserved solely for the purpose of capturing audio to go with reports of harassment or abuse, Polygon noted.

In an age when the gaming experience is breaking down borders and promoting connectivity, it can unfortunately be twisted and abused by unscrupulous individuals. This seems to be Sony’s own attempt at weeding out those individuals, and the system feels like it still needs further tweaking.

A new report claims to know the clock speed of the PlayStation 5's CPU. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson