Following the Paris attacks on November 13th, Sony issues a response to claims that its PlayStation 4 console’s party chat was used to coordinate the event.
Sony has issued a response to claims the PlayStation 4 was used as a form of peer-to-peer communication in preparation for this past weekend’s terrorist attacks in Paris. The company acknowledges that their party chat system has “the potential to be abused,” but assures consumers that they notify the proper authorities any time something suspicious pops up.
While few knew about Sony and the PS4’s potential connection the Paris attacks, rumors started flying following a report by Forbes (since corrected). According to the publication, a PS4 was recovered during a raid, but apparently that was not true. In fact, the raid report that Forbes cited was from a prior Isis raid, where a PS4 was recovered.
That isn’t to say PS4s aren’t a known tool for terrorist communication, but connections to this weekend’s Paris attacks are still unsubstantiated. There are plenty of P2P applications being closely monitored by national security agencies; the PS4 just happens to be one of them. However, because of how Sony’s chat works, it’s much harder to monitor and relies on consumer participation:
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.
It’s for those reasons that many terrorist groups have been known to use PS4s to communicate. Yes, the same technology that gamers use to coordinate raid groups in Destiny has been known to support terrorist planning. It’s an unfortunate byproduct of the world we live in.
As far as connections to the Paris attacks, though, some analysts do believe that the PS4s played a part, but so far no evidence has come forward to support those claims. Still, with everyone’s mind on the terrible tragedy in Paris, it was likely best for Sony to come out and get ahead of the news.
For Sony, any connection between the PS4 and terrorism can’t help, especially at such a pivotal time in the fiscal year. Now is when Sony is looking to move as many PS4 units as possible; it’s why they lowered the price of the current-gen console a few weeks ago.
They may be leading the pack in terms of overall sales, but Sony has seen Microsoft make solid strides towards catching up. In October, for example, Microsoft’s Xbox One beat out the PS4 in console sales, due in large part to Halo 5’s release. And we wouldn’t be surprised to see Microsoft hold serve throughout the rest of the year, if for no other reason than the added boost of Halo. Both consoles have access to all of this year’s major releases (save for a few Wii U titles), but only one has a bona fide, triple-A exclusive.
So, something that may actually be nothing – i.e. a connection to a terrorist attack – could prove significant if not handled properly. That’s why Sony issued the statement.