Edward Snowden’s classified document leaks continue to show that gaming is a growing target of intelligence surveillance. In the latest batch of documents, it was revealed that the United States National Security Agency and the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters have monitored Xbox Live interactions, sent virtual undercover agents to infiltrate World of Warcraft and Second Life, and made a “vigorous effort” to exploit gaming data.
The NSA document, written in 2008 and titled Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments, stressed the risk of leaving games communities under-monitored, describing them as a “target-rich communications network” where intelligence targets could “hide in plain sight”.
Games, the analyst wrote, “are an opportunity!”. According to the briefing notes, so many different US intelligence agents were conducting operations inside games that a “deconfliction” group was required to ensure they weren’t spying on, or interfering with, each other.
Blizzard denied that they worked with the surveillance agencies in the documents to monitor their games and said that any spying was done without their permission. Both Microsoft and Second Life’s Linden Lab declined to comment.
To the agent that monitored my Live chat on September 12th of last year: I was totally kidding buddy!