The news has been spreading that the Paris shooters planned their attacks using the Playstation 4. Is this true?
1. There is no reason to believe that it is.
2. The belief that they did so originated from an interview given by the Belgian interior minister, Jan Jambon, three days before the attack, talking about IS in general, and not about the particular attack which was then in the future.
The more interesting question is whether it matters if they did.
Should governments now start monitoring in-game chats in the Playstation network? OK. How about in-game chat for the Xbox? How about Words with Friends? The above are examples of communications that get ignored on account of the huge amount of noise from actual gamers. How about spoken words or a real-time drawing or video? Then there are real messaging applications, some of which are encrypted, some of which actually do a very good job of it.
Should governments start monitoring communications between every app that is built and made available to any two humans in order to ensure that terrorists do not plan something? Is this even possible? It may be interesting to think about a Person of Interest – like system that has the ability to monitor everything and alert the good guys when danger threatens someone. Thinking that the government can eavesdrop on every communication is folly. Aside from the technical hurdles for encrypted communications, there is the hurdle of the huge volume of noise to sort through.
Governments should come to the realisation that mass-surveillance is not the answer and that porn-viewing and playing video games is just perhaps a wastage of hard-earned tax money. There is pressure from the electorate to be seen doing something after any act causing terror, but doing something useless or harmful is worse than doing nothing.