Report: Federal Government Is Surveilling Gamers

With the House seemingly poised to adopt legislation restricting TikTok’s ability to operate in the United States due to reports of unauthorized data gathering and monitoring, a new report alleges that the federal government is working with gaming companies to monitor users.

On Friday, BizPac Review Business & Politics reported that a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) “revealed a collaboration between federal agencies and tech companies to essentially throttle some information sources and monitor for extremism.”

A video report by The Hill depicted the government’s actions as an expansion of past efforts to monitor and repress information on various social media platforms. Investigative reporter Ken Klippenstein said the government has “mechanisms in place” to monitor gamer “headset conversations and text messages.”

The GAO reported that according to documents retrieved via their FOIA request, federal officials are currently monitoring “gamers,” labeling them as potential “Domestic Violent Extremists” who often utilize “humor, aesthetics and memes” to share dangerous messaging.

A post by End Wokeness, an X user whose stated mission is “fighting, exposing, and mocking wokeness,” blasted the reported “collaboration between FBI, DHS, & huge companies like Roblox, Discord, Reddit.”

In a related story, the Foundation for Freedom organization revealed the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has encouraged technology companies and media organizations to censor content.

Foundation for Freedom reported that USAID “has been quietly pushing private sector technology companies, media organizations, education ministries, national governments and funding bodies to adopt social media censorship practices, according to newly revealed internal documents.”

The Foundation for Freedom organization reported their information was made available via a FOIA request by America First Legal (AFL) dated February 2021. Through that request, AFL obtained a document titled, “Disinformation Primer.”

AFL’s summary of the “Disinformation Primer” stated that it recommends “censorship action items for virtually every governmental, non-governmental and private sector commercial actor across society to both individually and collectively take action against disfavored speech online.”

Mike Benz, Executive Director for Foundation for Freedom, quoted from the “Disinformation Primer” when he posted that USAID was censoring gaming sites to “stop ordinary citizens from forming ‘interpretations of the world that differ from mainstream sources.’” His post includes highlighted sections of the primer document.

The report comes as CNN reported that the House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously approved a measure — known as the TikTok ban bill — that would prohibit the large social media platform from operating in America unless it decoupled from its Chinese government-linked parent company, ByteDance.