Italian counter-terror agents are to monitor Sony's PlayStation Network for jihadi chatter, according to the nation's justice minister, following alarmingly silly reports that a PS4 was used to coordinate the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Andrea Orlando told Italian broadsheet Il Messaggero that the government would be investing €150m (£105m) in a reformation of the nation's security services, with the aim of allowing them to monitor "any form of communication", with the PlayStation gaming console receiving specific attention.
The Italian plans follow an article in Forbes, cited by the Telegraph and the New York Times, which claimed, "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."
That report, in turn, appears to have been prompted by statements made by the Belgian deputy prime minister, Jan Jambon. Jambon complained that Belgian security services and their international partners were unable to decrypt communications made through the PlayStation Network. Jambon reportedly claimed that "PlayStation 4 is even more difficult to keep track of than WhatsApp" in this regard. His claims were made days before the attacks in Paris, however, and had to do with ISIS' general tactics.
It is not the first time that gaming platforms have come under suspicion from counter-terrorist powers. An NSA briefing note leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden and titled "Exploiting Terrorist /use of Games & Virtual Environments" showed the spooks had discussed infiltrating the platforms due to concerns about terrorists planning their activities on World of Warcraft and Second Life, for example. It is not clear whether any useful intelligence was ever produced through such activities. ®