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US Authorities To Use Consoles To Track Suspects

US authorities from the US Navy and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are looking into tracking suspected terrorists and sex offenders via their console activities.

In a similar fashion to phone snooping, the government plans to snoop in on multiplayer gaming activities, hard drive contents as well as that of attached storage. To do so, it'll be making use of third party San Francisco-based forensics firm Obscure Technologies.

While the main targets are of course the most distasteful of criminals, there is some worry that the technology could be used to spy on the activities of average citizens.

Foreign Policy (opens in new tab) echoes these concerns, with hints to hacks that have allowed a nefarious few to spy on individuals using the Kinect motion tracking camera. It's also pointed out that users of consoles can't do anything to improve their security - beyond completely disconnecting it from the Internet - as there's no options for installing anti-virus or other third party protective software.

As part of experimentation with this new avenue of surveillance, the DHS has been picking up used consoles from overseas, seeing what sort of data can actually be extracted: "This project requires the purchasing of used video game systems outside the U.S. in a manner that is likely to result in their containing significant and sensitive information from previous users."

I wonder if the UK is considered "overseas"?

The New York state recently banned those on the sex offender's register from gaming on several different platforms including Xbox Live, Sony's Entertainment Network, EA's Origin and many other services.

Dipping his toes into almost everything that could be labeled 'nerdy' in his free time, Jon has been writing about technology for over half a decade. While mainly focusing on PC hardware thoughout this time, today he's more varied, covering everything from gaming to general electronics, industry perspectives and consoles. As well as writing for different sites, Jon enjoys wargaming, reading and PC gaming, hoping to balance out these geeky pastimes with fire spinning and MMA.