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Police Target Xbox Users for Stakeouts, Console Searches

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. | Last updated on

First, it was computers. Then it was cell phones. And now? It's gaming consoles.

Hacktivist group Anonymous recently targeted the email account of a cybercrimes investigator with the California Department of Justice. That hack netted a treasure trove of information related to police use of Xbox and other gaming consoles.

The practice is apparently becoming more and more common.

This is based on an analysis of emails sent to a digital forensics mailing list, according to Ars Technica. The list includes hundreds of emails between experts and law enforcement officers discussing ways to harvest the Xbox and other consoles for video, pictures, voice recordings and data logs.

The emails also include stories in which police successfully used the Xbox to nab a suspect.

One of those include the story of Jeremiah Gilliam. Officers were able to subpoena his IP address after the owner of a stolen Xbox noticed his console online. Police found dozens of stolen gaming systems at Gilliam's home.

Investigators are also using gaming logs, reports Ars Technica. Most hard drive-based gaming systems record when a user logs on and plays. The information is useful when creating a timeline or rebutting an alibi.

Some officers also "stakeout" suspects on Xbox Live, the system's online network. In a presentation to law enforcement, Microsoft explained how law enforcement can interact with suspects. They can capture audio and video -- and those trading in child porn.

As gaming systems become more and more sophisticated, we can only expect the police to use the Xbox more frequently. And as usual, we can also expect new legal issues to arise.

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