October 28, 2020

If You Play Videogames, China May Be Spying on You

By Dave Aitel and Jordan Schneider

Forget WeChat and TikTok. China’s hold on the global videogaming market is the most pressing security vulnerability when it comes to Chinese consumer tech products.

Over the past 10 years, Chinese tech giant Tencent has invested in or outright acquired many of the world’s largest videogame companies, including Activision Blizzard, “League of Legends” maker Riot Games, Epic Games (“Fortnite”), Supercell (“Clash of Clans”) and the communications platform Discord. Americans spend far more time on Chinese-backed videogames than on TikTok and WeChat. While Chinese companies had been content to invest in established Western studios, Chinese developers are now creating enormous hits like “Genshin Impact”—the biggest ever global launch of a Chinese-made title.

Beijing’s access to millions of gamers’ computers gives its spies an unrivaled opportunity to use games to conduct intelligence operations.

Are Chinese videogames really a threat to U.S. national security? Yes—China is already using games to spread its soft power and collect data on U.S. citizens, as the current administration has highlighted. More insidiously, Beijing’s access to millions of gamers’ computers gives its spies an unrivaled opportunity to use games to conduct intelligence operations.

Read the full article in The Wall Street Journal.

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