US Department of Homeland Security decided to hack gaming consoles, such as Playstations, Xboxes and Wiis. Also US Navy paid $180,000 to Obscure Technologies, to hack the encryption of personal data on the consoles. According to this contract, US government wants hardware and software tools that could extract data from gaming systems.
It’s easy to dismiss these gaming consoles just as simple games, but to law enforcement, they’re a potential treasure of forensic data. It’s obvious, that government isn’t interested in the games themselves. It’s the platforms, their abilities to serve as all-purpose devices could be a gold mine, for example, all the chat data between players and connections to Facebook. With this information, investigators would have data including time when player connected to Internet, who we talked with, what he said and what games he played.
This data is extremely valuable, because it could help to track down pedophiles, who use gaming communities as their “hunting grounds”. Also, there’s a suspicion, that terrorists use online gaming to communicate. However, the catch is, that it might break privacy concerns. The US Privacy Act makes it illegal to use US citizens’ data for investigation. So US government would only search gaming systems purchased outside of US.
It is possible to gather information from consoles, however, it’s quite hard. many of investigators got only frustrated, when they tried. However, should we give such rights to spy on gaming users? Just because it’s said that it will be used to catch pedophiles and terrorists, doesn’t mean it won’t inevitably be used to spy over US citizens’ devices. It’s clear that if you want to keep your conversations hidden, don’t use gaming consoles, as they might be cracked down soon.