You think you’re safe in your Second Life or your World of Warcraft? Well think again, because you my friend, are being spied on by the NSA.
Uncovered by The Guardian, New York Times, ProPublica and documents that Eric Snowden released, the report shows that the NSA has been spying on players through various games and services. The NSA had so many staff members snooping on players, that along with third-party agencies, they had to liase with one another in order to avoid disrupting the plans in motions.
The reason for suspecting that games were terrorist hiding grounds? According to one of the reports, it was because the titles on offer today “offer realistic weapons training “, linking that potential training to what the 9-11 terrorists learnt off of a copy of Microsoft’s Flight Simulator. And also because virtual training offers cheaper alternatives for those dirty terrorists, according to the NSA report:
When the mission is expensive, risky or dangerous, it is often a wiser idea to exercise virtually, rather than really blow an operative up assembling a bomb or exposing a sleeper agent to law enforcement scrutiny. Militaries around the world use virtual simulators with great success and the Hizballah even hooked up a PlayStation controller to a laptop in order to guide some of its real missiles.
By entering these terrorist breeding grounds known as Xbox Live, World of Warcraft and Second Life, it’s been suggested that the NSA can perform sting operations as they build up a rapport with potential hackers and criminals.
As The Guardian noted, while the NSA has put quite a bit of effort into infiltrating the inner circles of gaming, they haven’t exactly mentioned yet if any of this had yielded any tangible results. As for the studios involved, World of Warcraft developer Blizzard claims that they had no idea that their players were being spyed on, saying in a statement that “We are unaware of any surveillance taking place. If it was, it would have been done without our knowledge or permission.”
Second Life developer Linden Lab has yet to reply to comment requests, but Microsoft issued the following statement to Polygon regarding their 40 million Xbox Live subscribers being watched by the NSA:
We’re not aware of any surveillance activity. If it has occurred as reported, it certainly wasn’t done with our consent.
A further excerpt from the NSA documents reads:
Al-Qaida terrorist target selectors and … have been found associated with XboxLive, Second Life, World of Warcraft, and other GVEs [Games and Virtual Environments]. Other targets include Chinese hackers, an Iranian nuclear scientist, Hizballah, and Hamas members.
But as the Guardian rightfully surmised, this proves diddly-squat. A terrorist using a PC in Pakistan to play some Warcraft is using the same IP address on that PC, that the next gamer will be linked to when they use that PC. Better watch your mouth the next time you log on to play some Call of Duty then…infidels.
Last Updated: December 10, 2013