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NSA and GCHQ Listening to Online Private Chats on Xbox Live; World of Warcraft and Second Life also Targeted


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The Guardian has released documents from Edward Snowden that show that UK and US spies are listening in on conversations and interactions going on popular games such as World of Warcraft and Second Life. The leaked documents also show that the NSA and GCHQ are listening to your private Xbox Live chats.

Both spy agencies for the US and UK reportedly "have built mass-collection capabilities against the Xbox Live console network". To date, there are over 48 million Xbox Live users.

Both agencies have also used World of Warcraft and Second Life by creating characters as a means to gain information from users' buddy lists, monitor interactions, and recruit potential informants. There are over 36 million registered Second Life players and according to a report in July, World of Warcraft is down to 7.7 million active players.

In the 2008 NSA document, "Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments", the NSA and GCHQ speak about how they believe online gaming and online chats present opportunities for terrorists to discuss future attacks and also their plans further describing the online gaming community as a "target-rich communications network".

The report also claims that terrorist group Al-Qaeda and other possible terrorists associate themselves with XBL, Second Life, and World of Warcraft.

"Al-Qaida terrorist target selectors and … have been found associated with Xbox Live, 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."

Perhaps most interestingly mentioned by The Guardian is how the GCHQ requested the NSA to begin using World of Warcraft in a "deliberate effort to extract metadata" and link "accounts, characters and guilds" to Islamic extremism and arms dealing efforts." It was later claimed that within World of Warcraft active subscribers they found "telecom engineers, embassy drivers, scientists, the military and other intelligence agencies". Soon after the infiltration of World of Warcraft, Xbox Live followed.

The FBI, CIA, and Defense Humint Service were also mentioned in the report as using Second Life to gain intelligence.

Blizzard Entertainment; the developer behind World of Warcraft is speaking out about the report and claim that they did not know about the spying. "We are unaware of any surveillance taking place. If it was, it would have been done without our knowledge or permission."

Both Microsoft and the founder of Second Life Philip Rosedale declined to comment. The NSA has also declined to comment on the report and GCHQ has not confirmed or denied the report, but did say "in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that its activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the interception and intelligence services commissioners and the Intelligence and Security Committee".

via The Guardian

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