The FBI applied for a search warrant to compel Sony to share private data on a Playstation 4 user who was allegedly brokering cocaine distribution deals using the Playstation’s in-game chat functionality, according to a new report.
Vice News reported that the FBI filed the search warrant request on October 22 in the Western District of Missouri. In its request, the FBI alleged that the individual relied on PlayStation’s online capabilities to coordinate the sale of large quantities of cocaine.
The user communicated using PlayStation’s “during game” functionality, which allows audio conversations between players during a multi-player game.
The report highlights the growing concern among consumers that tech companies are sharing private user data with third parties, including the federal government. Silicon Valley giants including Google and Facebook are already facing heightened scrutiny over when and how they share data behind their users’ backs.
Now the world of online gaming has become the next battleground in the privacy wars.
Vice News reported that it remains unclear if Sony ever handed over data to the FBI in the case. The FBI’s request included the content of all communications associated with the PlayStation account, suggesting that the FBI had somehow gained access to the account or obtained copies of chats and emails.
The FBI was reportedly working on the case with a “confidential human source” who remains anonymous. The source worked with the FBI to set up a sting in which the suspect was observed selling the informant a bag of approximately 100 grams of white powder for $4,400.
The suspect then told the source that he wanted to talk again later that evening on the “game.” The FBI’s search warrant request didn’t reveal the name of the game.
Forbes reported last year on what is believed to be the first known case of Sony providing PlayStation data to government authorities.
In that case, Sony handed over user data to the FBI on a PlayStation 4 user who was allegedly planning to travel from Kansas to the Middle East to fight for a terrorist organization.