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 3:45:32 PM
not only that, but are there that many pre-pubescent kids using those services? and if there are, are they really at risk of being hurt by any pedophiles? kids are hurt by pedophiles if the pedophiles are teachers or babysitters or priests, not on the internet. they probably have a better chance of being struck by lightning than being hurt by such a pedophile. what a waste of money, let alone a scary abuse of power.
4/4/2012 6:38:03 PM
so if two 14yr olds are sex-video chatting...and a 45yr old Navy dude is watching them...yeah, I think we all know who the pedophile is....
"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken
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
Quick Note: Toshiba to Restructure PC Business, Cut 900 Jobs Worldwide
September 18, 2014, 1:40 PM
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 U.S. Pre-orders Start Sept 19, Launches Oct 14
September 18, 2014, 10:15 AM
Amazon Releases New and Refreshed Kindle Fire Tablets, Announces Fire OS 4
September 17, 2014, 10:23 PM
Apple Launches iOS 8 for iPads, iPhones
September 17, 2014, 1:54 PM
Apple Cripples NFC in iPhone 6, 6+ With Developer Ban
September 17, 2014, 1:00 PM
5.7" ZTE ZMAX "Phablet" Coming to T-Mobile Sept 24 for $252
September 17, 2014, 11:50 AM
Most Popular Articles
Quick Note: Buy an Xbox One Sept 7-13, Get a Free Game
September 4, 2014, 10:42 AM
Apple Announces Its Smartwatch: The $349 Apple Watch
September 9, 2014, 2:09 PM
Dell Announces "World's Thinnest" Tablet: The Venue 8 7000 Series
September 11, 2014, 8:51 AM
Windows 9's Latest Metro Start Menu Leaks, German Site Accidentally Outs Leaker
September 11, 2014, 8:36 PM
T-Mobile Launches Un-carrier 7.0, Beefs Up Wi-Fi Calling
September 11, 2014, 2:56 PM
Latest Blog Posts
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
Space Terrorism is a Looming Threat For the United States
Apr 23, 2014, 7:47 PM
Facebook Aims to Provide Internet to "Every Person in the World" with Drones, Satellites
Apr 1, 2014, 10:20 AM
Retail Mobile Sites Experience Outages in Light of Simplexity's Bankruptcy
Mar 14, 2014, 8:48 AM
Tesla vs. BMW: Who Has the Safer EV?
Feb 1, 2014, 2:56 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information