The NSA is accused of infiltrating games like Wold of Warcraft and Second Life to spy on gamers. A new leak, provided by Edward Snowden, suggests the NSA, CIA, and the UK’s GCHQ sent undercover agents into several online worlds to gather players’ information.
The 2008 report titled “Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments” was released today. The report contains information gathered from the Xbox Live network, World of Warcraft, and Second Life. The online gaming networks are used by millions of gamers world-wide.
In addition to using their own spies, the agencies reportedly recruited others to work as informants. The report suggests the NSA, CIA, and GCHQ targeted the online game environments as they are considered “target-rich communities” which allow terrorists to “hide in plain sight.”
The spies were tasked with “identifying accounts, characters, and guilds, related Islamic extremist groups, nuclear proliferation, and arms dealing.” As reported by RT, the report did not contain any information to suggest specific targets. Furthermore, the report did not include any indication that terrorists or terrorist activities were discovered in any of the online worlds.
World of Warcraft is a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game which was developed by Blizzard Entertainment. In the game, each player chooses an avatar with specific qualities, strengths, and talents, The players are tasked with completing quests which are often a group effort.
Second Life is an online virtual world created by Linden Labs. Players create an avatar which is used to interact with other players’ avatars within the world. Unlike World of Warcraft, Second Life does not focus quests or goals. It is simply a forum for social interaction and artistic display. In addition to interacting with others, players can design and create anything from avatar clothing to complete islands.
As the report is five years old, it is unknown whether the spies are still present within the gaming worlds. Representatives with Blizzard Entertainment said they had no knowledge of the alleged spying, and the agencies were not given permission to infiltrate the virtual world.
Linden Labs and Microsoft declined to comment about the allegations or the report.
Most players join online gaming communities to find a safe escape from reality. Unfortunately, the NSA, CIA, and GCHQ are also interested in the virtual worlds.
[Image via Fotopedia]