DHS Looks to Spy on Video Game Consoles in Search of Pedophiles, Terrorists
April 4, 2012 1:02 PM
comment(s) - last by
The government's doing WHAT?
The government is more concerned with the platforms rather than the games themselves, mainly because newer systems like Xbox 360, Wii and PlayStation 3 allow users to communicate with one another via messaging and chat systems
Gamers may want to be careful about what they say when jumping onto their consoles for an innocent bout of slaying dragons or killing zombies -- the government will be watching.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Navy have launched a new research initiative that will explore ways of allowing the government to hack into gaming consoles like the
, Wii, or PlayStation 3 to obtain information on gamers.
In 2008, a project called "Gaming Systems Monitoring and Analysis Project" was executed when law enforcement became worried about pedophiles using game consoles to talk to children. Later, law enforcement authorities went to DHS' Science and Technology Directorate in search of help on an instrument that could observe game console data. DHS then went to the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) to find Simson Garfinkel, a NPS computer science professor, to offer a contract to a company that could conduct the research and offer a product.
The U.S. Navy ended up recently awarding the $177,237 contract to Obscure Technologies, which is a computer forensics company based in San Francisco, California. Obscure Technologies will be expected to create new hardware and software capable of extracting data from video game consoles. DHS wants to be able to
from both new and used games systems bought on the secondary market as well.
According to DHS, the reason for tapping into game consoles is to find pedophiles, who are using communication resources on game systems to seek out victims, and even terrorists, which DHS believes are using consoles to communicate.
"Today's gaming systems are increasingly being used by criminals as a primary tool in exploiting children and, as a result, are being recovered by U.S. law enforcement organizations during court-authorized searches," said Garfinkel.
The government is more concerned with the platforms rather than the games themselves, mainly because newer systems like Xbox 360, Wii and PlayStation 3 allow users to communicate with one another via messaging and chat systems. This communication is what the government is mainly after.
This new contract has privacy groups wondering if this is just another way that the government can abuse citizens' privacy.
"You wouldn't intentionally store sensitive data on a console," said Parker Higgins, a spokesman for the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF), an online privacy group. "But I can think of things like connection logs and conversation logs that are incidentally stored data. And it's even more alarming because users might not know that the data is created. These consoles are being used as general-purpose computers. And they're used for all kinds of communications. The Xbox has a very
active online community
where people communicate. It stands to reason that you could get sensitive and private information stored on the console."
It's important to note that DHS doesn't plan to hack into the game consoles of U.S. citizens because of privacy-related issues. DHS only plans to peek at consoles from overseas.
"This project requires the purchasing of used video game systems outside of the U.S. in a manner that is likely to result in their containing significant and sensitive information from previous users," said Garfinkel. "We do not wish to work with data regarding U.S. persons due to Privacy Act considerations. If we find data on U.S. citizens in consoles purchased overseas, we remove the data from our corpus."
The government isn't the only one who has been problematic when it comes to citizen's privacy. Earlier this week, it was discovered that
law enforcement around the U.S. is using cell phone tracking regularly
as a tool for the job -- and sometimes the tracking is warrantless.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
4/4/2012 2:15:35 PM
...eavesdropping on console chat is different from wiretapping a phone line how?
This is no different than wiretapping people without a court order. This is ludicrously illegal.
I strongly urge everyone to contact your elected representatives about this...if they can justify hacking into console chat, there's no fundamental difference from there to your phone, texting, FB, anything else.
“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls
ACLU Finds U.S. Police Departments Using Cell Phone Tracking, Sometimes Warrantless
April 3, 2012, 9:08 AM
Government Job Applicants, College Students Asked to Surrender Facebook Information
March 7, 2012, 6:34 PM
Microsoft to Launch New Movie/TV/Music Apps on Xbox Live Starting Tomorrow
December 5, 2011, 10:11 AM
Report: 250GB Xbox 360 Console/Kinect Bundle Dropping to $300
May 31, 2011, 10:06 AM
Chromebooks Expected to See Sales Grow 26 Percent to 7.3 Million Units This Year
May 22, 2015, 1:26 PM
Apple Finally Updates 15" MacBook Pro w/ Force Touch; 5K iMac Gets Price Cut
May 20, 2015, 1:45 PM
LG G4's International Rollout Begins; Pint-Sized G4c, High-End G4 Stylus Trot Out
May 19, 2015, 12:54 AM
President Obama Posts His First "Personal" Tweet to Twitter Via an iPhone
May 18, 2015, 4:38 PM
Microsoft Bricks the Xbox Ones of Gears of War Testers Responsible for Leaks
May 14, 2015, 5:26 PM
Windows 10 Mobile Build 10080 is Available for New Phones, Brings Office Preview
May 14, 2015, 2:53 PM
Most Popular Articles
America's Largest Cable Company, Comcast, Sees Internet Subscriptions Pass TV
May 4, 2015, 2:46 PM
Can id Software's Doom Find Its Way Out of a 7+ Year Development Hell?
May 19, 2015, 7:38 PM
Oculus Rift Confirms "Pause" in OS X, Linux Development, Some Devs are Mad
May 18, 2015, 11:36 PM
The Pirate Bay Loses Its Iconic Swedish Dot SE Domains
May 20, 2015, 6:31 PM
In-Depth: Apple's ~$1B Court Victory Over Samsung to be Cut up to a Third
May 18, 2015, 9:20 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2015 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information