Italy spies on Playstation chat amid terror threat

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Italian Justice Minister Andrea Orlando (L) and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano. Photo: Olivier Morin/AFP
16:29 CET+01:00
Scrutinizing communication among users of the ‘chat’ feature on the popular gaming console, Playstation, is among the measures Italy has adopted to detect potential jihadists across technological platforms.

Justice Minister Andrea Orlando said new tools would be used to intercept communication across a variety of messenger services while more translators would be taken on to strengthen the authorities' ability to understand messages.

“The internet offers numerous opportunities for communication and counter-terrorism investigations have found that Playstation could be a tool used, so any form of communication will be monitored,” Orlando told Il Messaggero.

Some €150 million would be spent on strengthening information systems, the minister added, while “cultural mediators” would be placed in prisons to “prevent the kind of radicalization which has developed within this context in other countries”.

The move to monitor the Sony games console comes after it emerged that those behind the Paris attacks earlier this month, in which 130 people died, may have communicated through the ‘chat’ feature on Playstation 4.

Jan Jambon, Belgium's Minister of Home Affairs, said two days after the attacks that intelligence services had discovered a hidden recruitment channel in games consoles.

It has also been suggested that the attackers may have used encrypted messages on WhatsApp to communicate.

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Italy has been on heightened alert since the attacks amid a warning from the FBI that jihadists may be plotting attacks at key monuments, including St Peter’s Basilica and Milan’s Duomo.

“The threat of an attack is a worrying issue which requires constant monitoring,” Orlando said, adding that leaders will “repeatedly check the tightness of both the administrative and regulatory choices made”.

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