BUSINESS

Why Sony's PlayStation 4 Is Being Linked To The Paris Attacks

11/16/2015 11:53 EST

Three days before the Paris attacks, Belgium’s Interior Minister, Jan Jambon, warned the world that terrorists have a potentially dangerous new tool: Sony’s PlayStation 4 game console.

“The most difficult communication between these terrorists is via PlayStation 4,” Jambon said at an event hosted by Politico.

“It’s very, very difficult for our services — not only Belgian services but international services — to decrypt the communication that is done via PlayStation 4.”

sony ps4

The PlayStation 4.

Jambon’s words were alarming to some privacy advocates, as it implied that state security services can basically crack communications on any other platform.

But his comment may yet prove prophetic. Multiple unconfirmed news reports indicate a PlayStation 4 was picked up as evidence in one of the raids executed around Brussels in connection with Friday's attacks, which killed at least 132 people at multiple locations around Paris.

Speculation is now spreading like wildfire that the terrorists were able to evade French intelligence services by communicating through the device.

Sony’s PlayStation Network has some 65 million active users, and users have a multitude of ways they can communicate, including voice chat and text messages.

Users can also communicate directly within online games, something spy agencies have cottoned on to. A 2013 investigation by ProPublica found that the NSA and the CIA infiltrated the “World of Warcraft” and “Second Life” fantasy games for fear that terrorists were plotting real-world attacks in cyberspace.

jan jambon

Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon fears law enforcement can't crack communication on Sony's PlayStation 4.

That led to concerns law enforcement may be scooping up data on millions of gamers not suspected of any illegal activities.

All the same, governments around the world are moving to tighten their control over encrypted communications.

British Prime Minister David Cameron recently introduced a bill that would force companies to create a “back door” for encrypted communications, allowing law enforcement to read the data.

The proposed law has met with resistance from privacy advocates who note that building encryption "back doors" creates vulnerabilities that hackers, and not just the government, can exploit.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has said the company plans to oppose the law.

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