NSA spied on players in World of Warcraft, Second Life, XBox LIVE

World of Warcraft

By on December 10, 2013 at 11:25 am

Edward Snowden’s leak of internal NSA files continues to reveal amazing amounts of surveillance, with multiple outlets today reporting that the National Security Agency maintained extensive and dedicated teams who monitored players in popular games such as World of Warcraft and Second Life, and on Xbox LIVE.

An NSA report written in 2008 and titled ‘Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments’ describes MMOs and other online networks as a “target-rich communications network” where the NSA’s enemies could “hide in plain sight”.

By May 2008, the NSA’s internal reporting on World of Warcraft showed that they had multiple targets believed to be linked to Islamic extremism and arms dealing, and that they believed targets included “telecom engineers, embassy drivers, scientists, the military and other intelligence agencies”.

Second Life was an even bigger target for intelligence agencies, with both the NSA, CIA, FBI and the Defense Intelligence Agency all running ops within the game. There were so many agencies using Second Life that there was an actual need to establish communications with each other so that the multiple agencies did not double up on each other’s efforts.

By September of 2008, Britain’s GCHQ are noted in the NSA report as having been “successfully been able to get the discussions between different game players on Xbox Live”.

It looks like these games may not all have been unwilling surveillance targets, too: in 2007, Second Life developer Linden Labs’ then-COO gave a so-called “brown bag lunch” at the NSA in which he described Second Life as giving “the opportunity to understand the motivation, context and consequent behaviours of non-Americans through observation, without leaving US soil”.

Linden Labs declined to comment on these new reports, as did Microsoft — but Blizzard have released a short statement to say that they “are unaware of any surveillance taking place.”

“If it was, it would have been done without our knowledge or permission.”

Read more at The Guardian, the NYT, or ProPublica.

21 comments (Leave your own)
Nasty Wet Smear

Musta been kinda dull:
“Report: Aug 5th – Suspected Terrorist spent 11 hours grinding for a purple drop in the Plaguelands. Still no drop, still no other contact with the outside world.”

 

Man these guys either a) need a life or b) give me a job playing games in the guise of “Keeping the terrorists at bay”

 
Nasty Wet Smear

kinkykel:
Man these guys either a) need a life or b) give me a job playing games in the guise of “Keeping the terrorists at bay”

You could play CounterStrike, that way, when your boss walks by, he/she’ll hear “Counter Terrorists Win” and give you a raise.

 

nastywetsmear,

Hahaahahaha I laughed harder than I should.

 

“Johnson! Do the taxpayers pay you to play video games?”

“Yessir, they do.”

“As you were Johnson.”

 

How much money have they wasted on this crap?

Is there any evidence that a single terrorist plot ever has involved the use of on-line games?

Ridiculous.

 

farming gold to fund terrorism i knew it!

 

So what does Edward Snowden have a huge stack of documents and releases only 1 page to the media every week.
Thats what it seems.
Why is he taking his time. release everything he’s got now?

 

freezinbones: Why is he taking his time. release everything he’s got now?

It serves as a deterrent to his assassination. He has provided secret acquaintances with most of his most sensitive material to release as a doomsday threat.

 

i really don’t give a damn if the government or google wants to watch what i do. what are they gonna do? take naked pictures of me? catch my depressing browsing habits? go right ahead.

i’ve lived part of my life under real threat of dying from terrorist bombings and i’m actually glad spy agencies are keeping tabs on communications.

 

freezinbones:
So what does Edward Snowden have a huge stack of documents and releases only 1 page to the media every week.
Thats what it seems.
Why is he taking his time. release everything he’s got now?

A number of reasons including that he doesn’t actually want to harm people who are doing their jobs in the field, so the NYT/Guardian (who are actually releasing the info) are carefully vetting everything.

They also want to maximise the impact of each revelation given that Snowden’s (laudable) goal is to provoke shock and outrage, and if everything came out at once then the powers that be could just deal with it once, make soothing noises, and sweep it under the carpet.

 

right so there will people at nyt/guardian that are aware of national security issues. people clearly not qualified to deal with that info. what makes that information secure in their hands instead of some random person?

if the wikileaks guy and snowden genuinely wanted to expose government corruption they would release that info all at once. not hold various groups to ransom. guardian/nyt also has a profit interest in what they publish, they are for profit companies.

 

lon:
if the wikileaks guy and snowden genuinely wanted to expose government corruption they would release that info all at once. not hold various groups to ransom. guardian/nyt also has a profit interest in what they publish, they are for profit companies.

If they release it all at once then they can’t keep their name in the media for half a decade… which is the intention.

I actually don’t care that they’re monitoring players in games, look at some of the shifty stuff western intelligence service used to communicate etc during the 60′s, things have gone WAY past that.

I would say that people are overstating the amount of agents tasked to think kind of thing, the NSA doesn’t have THAT many employees.

 

lon,

You can never know what will be used against you, you can only ever know what could be used against you and guard yourself based on that.

 

schrapple,

theres nothing to be ‘used against’ most most people unless they are doing something illegal like looking at child porn or trying to blow up a building or something.

 

lon,

Yer i suppose you’re right, i mean it’s not like a government has ever misused or misinterpreted intelligence is it?

I should be more trusting.

 
Nasty Wet Smear

schrapple:
lon,

Yer i suppose you’re right, i mean it’s not like a government has ever misused or misinterpreted intelligence is it?

I should be more trusting.

I spose you have to weigh up the threats. You can have people watching and risk that they get it wrong or use that power to their own ends, or you can have nobody watching and leave yourself at the mercy of internal and external subterfuge. One means that you have to trust that, if you’re not doing anything wrong, you won’t be a target. The other means you have to trust that others aren’t doing anything wrong… Not perfect options either way. :(

The bright side to that situation is that, from time to time, you find out that “the watchers” are just playing WOW.

 

nastywetsmear,

well at least some of the people doing surveillance will psychos while 100% of the people trying to kill you are psychos.

 

lon:
nastywetsmear,

well at least some of the people doing surveillance will psychos while 100% of the people trying to kill you are psychos.

Could you produce some evidence that anyone is trying to kill him/her, ideally without reference to over the top government propaganda?

 
NoobyMcNoobnoob

i still dont see why there is more hate on wikileaks and snowden whistle-blowing then on the nsa and their pervasiveness on all aspects of communications, wonder if phone sex chat lines can bill them for lisenting in?

 
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