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[liberationtech] unmonitored international communication?

Seth David Schoen schoen at
Thu Mar 3 17:06:10 PST 2016

Carolyn Santo writes:

> The recent talk about video games made me wonder about using them as
> a communication channel that might not be monitored by repressive
> governments.

I've heard this idea is interesting to anti-censorship campaigners as
well as to spy agencies.

A disadvantage is that historically a lot of video game network
protocols haven't been even transport-encrypted, let alone end-to-end
encrypted.  So someone monitoring the network could likely even search
for text strings in the traffic and find them, or in any case could
develop software to interpret the game traffic.  This could change if
more game protocols would run over TLS or DTLS.

A further disadvantage is that the game operators themselves could
monitor in-game communications and many of them probably have tools to
do this, not least because multiplayer online games have been plagued by
harassment and griefing and the game operators may want to have an easy
way to review users' communications (which in turn can be applied to
consensual communications too).  Jurisdictions that impose surveillance
capability mandates (like the U.S.) may try to apply these to some kinds
of in-game communications.

An advantage is that some, but not all, surveillance systems may
have been programmed to systematically discard most gaming-related
traffic as uninteresting.  And any given game, especially one that's
not super-popular, might be far down the list of platforms for which a
particular surveillance system or organization develops analysis tools.

Seth Schoen  <schoen at>
Senior Staff Technologist             
Electronic Frontier Foundation        
815 Eddy Street, San Francisco, CA  94109       +1 415 436 9333 x107

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