Nishtha KanalDec 10, 2013 11:17:00 IST
Worried that virtual worlds could become a safe zone for terrorist activities and communications, British and American security agencies have reportedly been infiltrating World of Warcraft and Xbox Live networks for years.
A report published by The New York Times, ProPublica and The Guardian spoke about how WoW has been a spying target for US security agency NSA and British agency GCHQ. Spies reportedly created characters that infiltrated the network and mingled with users. The end goal was to snoop on these gamers to intercept any terrorist activity that could have blended in with the chatter.
This guy could be an NSA spy
The details came off documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to The Guardian. The documents showed spying on online games dated back to 2006 and shockingly involved not just the agents infiltrating online communities but even creating special mobile games to collect user information.
Hilariously, the spying continued on such a prolific level that at one point of time the American agencies had to make sure their operatives did not bump into each other online, thereby wasting time snooping on each other and duplicating efforts. Games were seen to be as an opportunity by NSA analysts who pointed out that in-game chat involving microphones and video could allow intelligence targets to “hide in plain sight”.
Blizzard Entertainment, publisher of World of Warcraft said that it was not aware of any surveillance taking place while Microsoft in a statement said, “We're not aware of any surveillance activity. If it has occurred as reported, it certainly wasn't done with our consent."
Spying was reportedly pretty massive in Second Life but the game hasn’t exactly been in the limelight for years now. Unfortunately, the documents leaked do not exactly show this project to intercept terrorist activities to be a success. However, Second Life did help the London Police bust a crime ring that dealt in stolen credit card information.
Given all that we’ve heard about the NSA’s snooping activities, spying on the gaming community does not come across as much of a surprise, but it does raise some uncomfortable questions about the safety and privacy of online gamers. The documents may have been at least five years old, but it won’t be surprising to note that there still may be intelligence agency moles running riot on your favourite MMORPG.
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