Updated on 11-16-2015 by Will Fulton: Kotaku’s Jason Schreier astutely pointed out that the statement from Belgian Minister Jambon was actually released before the attacks in Paris, and was referring to known general tactics of ISIS, rather than specific evidence. No official evidence lists from the Belgian raids have yet been released. The error in reporting cascaded from a story posted by Forbes on November 14. We apologize for amplifying that confusion.
Original Post: ISIS terrorists may have used the online chat function of the PlayStation 4 in order to plan the horrific, coordinated attacks on Paris this past weekend, according to Belgian authorities (via Express). The hunt for those who perpetrated the attack led authorities to make a number of raids in Belgium, which produced at least one PlayStation 4 console, which a Belgian government representative believes was used in planning the attack.
“PlayStation 4 is even more difficult to keep track of than WhatsApp,” said Belgian Minister of Home Affairs Jan Jambon. Although there is no hard evidence to support this claim (that has been publicly shared, at least), communication on Sony’s PlayStation Network (PSN) is notoriously difficult for authorities to monitor. Earlier this year, for instance, a 14-year-old Austrian boy plead guilty to using his PS4 to contact Syrian ISIS militants and download bomb schematics.
When asked about the possibility, a Sony spokesperson provided the following statement to Express:
“PlayStation 4 allows for communication amongst friends and fellow gamers and, in common with all modern connected devices, this has the potential to be abused. 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.”
This is not the first time that anti-terrorism organizations have keyed into online video games as a possible space in which illegal schemes could be hatched away from the watchful eyes of authorities. Documents released as part of Edward Snowden’s leaks revealed that the CIA and NSA were tracking potential terrorist activity in Microsoft’s PSN-equivalent, Xbox Live, Blizzard’s World of Warcraft and Linden Labs’ Second Life. In addition to top-level chat systems in PSN and Xbox Live, players can also communicate through both text and voice chat within games themselves, which would be nearly impossible to comprehensively monitor.