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U.S. airbase commander bans augmented reality games as possible terrorist threat

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The government has a long history of warning of the dangers of video games. But video games as national security risk?

That's the latest concern to come out of an impromptu investigation launched at Colorado Spring's Schriever Air Force Base. The investigation was kicked off after a base patrol questioned a visitor who was taking pictures near the base's 9/11 display, according to the Schriever Sentinel.

It turns out the man was playing Ingress, the augmented reality game created by Google's Niantic Labs. In the game, players capture virtual portals located in real locations around the world using their smartphones.

After digging into the basics of the game, a 50th Security Forces Squadron investigator shared his information with the base's special investigations office and then with security forces organizations at other bases in the area.

The result, as of this month, is that Ingress and other geo-location games like it are banned from the base. Base personnel are prohibited from playing those games or from escorting anyone onto the base to play the game.

Col Bill Liquori, 50th Space Wing Commander, told the base paper that the games can create operational security issues. The primary purpose of the 50th Space Wing is to track and maintain the country's military satellites. The 50th Space Wing also manages the Global Positioning System.

Liquori told the paper that the nature of the game, which includes taking pictures, could creates an opportunity to "provide a cover for surveillance of a possible terrorist target."

We've reached out to Schriever Air Force Base and Google to see how widespread the ban is on bases and what sort of impact it might have on Ingress and will update this story when they respond.

Update: A Schriever Air Force Base official confirmed the ban, but said she didn't know if it extended to any other bases.