Microsoft’s Xbox Live ban hammer goes astray due to software bug


In a post on Major Nelson’s blog Stephen Toulouse, head of Xbox LIVE Policy and Enforcement, admitted that innocent users have been banned from Xbox Live due to a software error.

He said:

Recently, it was brought to our attention that a number of customers had concerns about the validity of a recent ban of their individual consoles, which they feel had been triggered inaccurately. In this case, the bans were related specifically to modded consoles. I take these claims very seriously, and after an initial investigation we have confirmed that a handful of banned consoles did in-fact appear to not have been modified or tampered with. We’re still conducting our review but the cause appears to be a software issue, not an error on the part of the enforcement team’s normal actions. It’s very specific and occurred between August 29 and September 9, affecting a very small percentage of users.

The issue appears to be related to software on the Xbox itself, rather than any unusual behaviour from the users of the consoles, and Microsoft has stopped using this software tattletale.

Stephen notes the they know exactly who are affected, and that those people will be compensated automatically with three months of Xbox LIVE Gold and 1600 Microsoft points.  Obviously there are thousands of real cheaters, and those should not expect to have their bans lifted or any compensation.

Xbox Live is believed to have around 30 million paying subscribers, and the value of the network rests to a large degree on keeping it a level playing field, justifying the harsh enforcement of the rules.  However that is all the more reason their actions need to be accurate, and we hope this is an isolated incident and that innocent users are not routinely caught up in these actions.

Read more at Major Nelson here.

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