NSA Also Spied On World Of Warcraft, Second Life, Xbox Live Users

Because terrorists may be secretly chatting with each other while also trying to level-up their paladins and warlocks, the National Security Agency thought it was a good idea to eavesdrop on online games like World of Warcraft and Second Life, and on gamers who used Xbox Live.

A joint report from the NY Times and ProPublica looks at the latest revelation from the NSA documents leaked by former government contractor Edward Snowden.

The idea is that these games, where players can hide behind characters but still openly communicate and even exchange funds, could be a potential place for terrorists and their supporters to communicate outside of the usual methods.

The apparent threat was so huge that folks from the CIA, FBI and the Dept. of Defense all needed to get in on the action. The documents say that a “deconfliction” group had to be created in order to minimize agents from stepping on each other’s virtual feet in Second Life.

There was also the hope that the agencies could use these online communities to recruit people — drivers for embassies, foreign intelligence agents, etc. — to provide information and access.

And it wasn’t just spies going online to kill orcs and whatnot. The NSA and intelligence officers from the UK were collecting vast amounts of data on users, including communications that took place between gamers.

But for all the work put into spying on gamers and collecting their data, the documents reportedly make little mention of any successful results.

Blizzard, the company that makes World of Warcraft says that any spying done on its users was done without the company’s permission.

“We are unaware of any surveillance taking place,” said a Blizzard rep to the Times. “If it was, it would have been done without our knowledge or permission.”

Just to lighten the mood, let’s just pretend that the great Leeroy Jenkins was actually a top NSA spy gone rogue:

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  1. MarthaGaill says:

    I bet some schmuck got caught playing WoW at work and made up some story about how it was his mission to spy on users to catch terrorists. Then they just went with it.