The Guardian newspaper today released more Edward Snowden documents pertaining to the spying practices of the NSA. Today’s developments were especially comical and ridiculous (albeit still heinous) because it has been reported that the NSA has found it necessary to spy on people online through online gaming communities. Most notably, by monitoring Xbox Live chats as well as online RPG games like World of Warcraft and Second life. Going as far as to deploy real-life agents in-game to monitor behavior. While I don’t know who the lucky guy at the NSA was that got that job, it is still a gross waste of tax-payer funds and once again an incredible intrusion into the privacy of American’s citizens.
The NSA in concert with GCHQ worked together to not only monitor in-game chats and behavior of players online in games like World of Warcraft, but they also monitored the countless voice and text chats on networks like Xbox Live. Anyone that has used Xbox Live messaging knows that 95% of messages and chats are some 13 yearold calling you some sort of homosexual pejorative followed by an insult towards your mother. Or even more common is an invite to some no-name clan because they are ‘recruiting’. Once again, a ridiculous waste of NSA resources, but then again, they are spying on every facet of our lives and to assume that they’re not spying on our in-game online use would be naive. It just seems bizarre to think that anyone would try to coordinate a terrorist attack or training in Xbox Live.
The documents obtained by the Guardian dated back to 2008 and in one of them an NSA analyst noted that there were so many different US intelligence agents conducting in-game operations that a "deconfliction" group was setup to ensure they weren’t spying on or interfering with each other. Essentially, that they weren’t trying to falsely identify potential terrorists that were in fact their own agents or repeating the same work.
Essentially, this is yet another example of the government over reaching their powers. There has been no proven examples of terrorists or hackers setting up their communications through these channels and yet, these activities are likely continuing today since 2008. Furthermore, to this day the only example of a game that was even used by any terrorist organization was by Hezbollah in a game called Special Forces 2. The creation of this game, the NSA notes was actually funded by Hezbollah in order to help create stereotypes and reinforce ideologies of their fighters. They actually claimed to have gotten the idea from none other than the US Army and their creation and funding of America’s Army (and subsequent versions) in order to be used as a recruitment tool. Although now, America’s Army serves as a training tool as well as a recruitment tool.