US authorities target games consoles
US company Obscure Technologies has been awarded a contract by the US government to develop forensic tools for analysing the user data that is stored on confiscated games consoles. The company will receive $177,237 from the Department of Homeland Security's research fund to develop the tools. In addition to developing hardware and software tools, the company has agreed to create a collection of hard disk images, flash memory images and the configuration files of new and used games consoles.
Simson Garfinkel from the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), who oversees the project, told Foreign Policy magazine that the project does not wish to work with data that relates to US citizens. To avoid US Privacy Act issues, the second-hand consoles analysed will exclusively be obtained abroad, he explained. "If we find data on US citizens in consoles purchased overseas, we remove the data from our corpus", said Garfinkel. The contract also includes the analysis of console users' network activity data.
According to Foreign Policy magazine, the authorities mainly intend to use the knowledge they gain to investigate suspected paedophiles and terrorists who, the magazine says, are increasingly discovering the extensive communication technologies available on modern consoles. The results of the investigation are to be presented at conferences and in academic publications.