US Homeland Security Wants To Hack Non-US Consoles

This is a strange one — US Homeland Security is currently launching a $177,000US research project to find ways to siphon information from consoles, and it intends to purchase used overseas units in order to do so.

According to Foreign Policy, Obscure Technologies, a company with a background in computer forensics, has been awarded a contract to develop "hardware and software tools that can be used for extracting data from video game systems," all in the name of catching paedophiles, who are apparently using consoles to seek out victims.

"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 Simson Garfinkel, an expert in Computer Forensics.

There's also apparent suspicion that terrorists are using video games to communicate without the threat of traditional means of surveillance.

All fair and reasonable, if you're of the political persuasion that the ends justify the means, but here's the interesting part — as a result of US Privacy issues, Obscure Technologies will be purchasing used consoles from overseas as guinea pigs, extracting personal information from consoles being used around the world.

Best be wary if you intend to eBay any of your consoles in the recent future...

Spy Games [Foreign Policy]

Via Wired.


    They say they are after 'pedophiles' yet I wonder how many peoples privacy they have to trample on in the process. This is a terrible idea.

    *Insert witty "go team America" line*
    Actually I just lol'd at 'Simson Garfinkel', parents must have been huge Simon and Garfunkle fans.

    didnt kotaku already publish an article about this?

    The feds will find out that you played Avatar for the cheevos and kick your door down.

      I played it to see if it could be completed without getting the achievements.

      It can't.

      Lock me up, I'm a terrorist.

    This is just more Big Brother crap to control the narrative and make sure lies go unchallenged. They want to make sure the troops aren't telling anybody what's really happening in the field. It's easy to censor letters and monitor email on their own systems, but game consoles where you can chat live are harder to block. "..Officials wants to be able to keep tabs on live communications between a person using a modified console and whoever it is they are chatting with.."

      I was under the impression soldiers weren't allowed to connect their consoles to the internet. Even if that's not the case this seems like a really wierd way to censor communications. You're talking about devoting a lot of resources to simply monitoring a problem rather than just completely solving it by saying 'no video games, go play football instead'. Hell, if there was some human right obligation where soldiers couldn't be denied online XBOXs they could still go ahead and use the parental controls to lock online communications down.

    Ugh, US homeland security are such a corrupt bunch of thugs. They already gave themselves the right to seize and keep any electronic items that cross the US border in the name of "security", and have used that right plenty of times, yet Congress didn't even learn about it until after they started forcing that non-law on people. Not to mention a former director, after bringing in those full-body xray machines, then resigned and took up a top job at the company that makes the damned things. Absolutely disgusting.

    GOTAKU! You were my berst favourite one.

    what exactly is a "recent future…"

    so to fight terrorism, US homeland security is letting the terrorist win.....ok

    Hackers are the next round of weaponry in the digital age.

      Right, because griefing potential terrorists is going to calm shit down.

    Backward. Is it just me or does it seem the U.S. is becoming the evil empire?

      Becoming? Shit,This corrupt USA has been the "evil empire" for quite some time now. Starting with the Trilateral with the help of the media.

      They were always an evil empire, they're just more obvious about it nowadays.

    Are they TRYING to kill the industry again? Did it once with E.T, wanna go again oh land of the billion dollar industry?

    Not only does America destroy its people's freedoms with NDAA, Patriot Act and the attempted SOPA act (which it still wants) but it also wants to invade the privacy of other nations via thier game consoles??? Jesus! Does it want a war so badly that it purposely antagonises individuals from other countries?
    XBOX is already an invasion of privacy, what with the fact that Microsoft records and keeps EVERYTHING you say with Kinect on, it probably records the video as well, possibly another reason why they push it to be in every household so strongly, but this too?

    I think the words, Childish, paranoid, unwelcome, immoral, unjust, disgusting, pathetic whenever i hear yet another example of how the American government acts to "control" people. I just hope Ron Paul gets in as head and chief, he will stir things up....if he's not assassinated that is. (oh yes Obama can assassinate any american if he wants, without trial or evidence. What a joke of a country.

    As far as stamping out pedophilia is concerned, I believe the best defence is parental monitoring - this is absolute overkill and I daresay homeland security is using this reason to try and make it's actions more palatable to the public, much in the same way Stephen Conroy stated the internet filter is being introduced to stamp out child pornography.

    As far as actual homeland security is concerned... I don't quite buy it. Do supposed terrorists really use game consoles to communicate at such a frequency that homeland security needs to be able to hack one? How would they differentiate between usual FPS shooter chat/banter and actual instructions? How do they determine whose console to extract information from in the first place, and what would that be based on?

    And most importantly, why are they circumventing privacy laws?

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