NSA Eavesdropping Moves Deeper Into the Virtual World A report compiled by The New York Times, the UK Guardian and ProPublica suggests that the NSA and the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) have expanded their net of espionage into World of Warcraft, SecondLife, and Xbox Live in an attempt to identify terrorists that are potentially using alternate mediums to communicate. As if the NSA’s coverage of up to 75 percent of US net traffic was not enough, it seems that the NSA and the GCHQ have decided to instruct some of their agents to create characters in these games as a way to try to directly interact with potential terrorists.
According to the report, because terrorists use mechanisms that are similar to video games to create anonymity, such as false names, text based communications and nontraditional ways of conducting financial transactions, it has led the counter terrorism agencies to perhaps perceive a larger threat than there actually is.
Just like the major telecommunications companies that came before them, Blizzard Entertainment and Microsoft have both denied allowing access to the NSA or GCHQ. Blizzard has stated that if any espionage did take place, “It would have been done without our knowledge or permission”.
While it is unclear whether any useful intelligence came from their operations, the agencies did note that during their time playing there were opportunities to recruit skilled individuals as potential agents.
So for those of you out there playing World of Warcraft, SecondLife, or just spending time on Xbox Live, be sure to sell yourself! You never know if there is an agent waiting to recruit you! Or perhaps you could use my solution and just play Civilization V with the ‘No Espionage’ option checked off.