Isis could theoretically be using Mario Maker to plan its atrocities

Monday 16 November 2015 15:50
Science and Tech

In the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks that left 129 people dead and injured hundreds more, it has emerged authorities warned that terrorists could be coordinating attacks on the PlayStation 4 network.

A minister in Belgium, where some of the suspects in Paris came from, said terrorists using video game consoles to talk made it so much more difficult to track communications.

Jan Jambon, Belgium's interior minister, made the comments in a Politico event days before the Paris attacks.

He said:

The most difficult communication between these terrorists is via PlayStation 4.

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.

Writing for Forbes, contributor Paul Tassi argues that almost any video game system could potentially include the prospect of untraceable communications, whether it be via Nintendo's Super Mario Maker, where players construct their own levels, or a first-person shooter like Call of Duty.

He writes:

The scary part of all this is that there are probably still a number of ways that terrorists could send messages to each other without speaking a word, if they really wanted to. An Isis agent could spell out an attack plan in Super Mario Maker’s coins and share it privately with a friend, or two Call of Duty players could write messages to each other on a wall in a disappearing spray of bullets.

It may sound ridiculous, but there are many in-game ways of non-verbal communication that would almost be impossible to track. To do so would require an FBI or NSA agent somehow tapping all the activity on an entire console, not just voice and text chat, and that should not even be technically possible at this point.

A Sony spokesperson told Eurogamer that "in common with all modern connected devices, [PlayStation 4] has the potential to be abused".

The statement went on to say: "However, we take our responsibilities to protect our users extremely seriously and we urge our users and partners to report activities that may be offensive, suspicious or illegal. When we identify or are notified of such conduct, we are committed to taking appropriate actions in conjunction with the appropriate authorities and will continue to do so."

More: John Oliver went on a sweary and brilliant rant against Paris terrorists

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