NSA spies on 'World of Warcraft' and other online games for terrorists

By Kyle Johnson,

The NSA and U.K. spy agency, GCHQ, may have been looking for terrorists and clues in online games, such as the popular World of Warcraft.

This according to recent documents from Edward Snowden that he sent to The Guardian, as well as the New York Times and ProPublica.

The documents show that the spy agencies were able to build mass-collection programs to watch online games, including Second Life, through the internet and Xbox Live. The documents also note that the NSA and GCHQ tried to find potential informants through the games as well.

The information was found in a document, entitled "Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments," which was written in 2008. The spy agencies saw these popular online games as a "target-rich communications network" which terrorists could use to "hide in plain sight."

The analyst wrote in the document that tapping into online games could help produce plenty of intelligence. CNN notes that the documents don't mention any specific terrorist plots being uncovered.

A Blizzard spokesperson said the company was unaware of any surveillance. "If it was, it would have been done without our knowledge or permission."

British security analyst Graham Cluely found the whole thing silly. "I think I've heard it all now," he wrote on his blog.

"Obviously online games which include chat or IM facilities do provide a method for people to communicate ... but how practical is it to have a team of spies sniffing around 'World of Warcraft' to see what they might find?"

image: Amazon


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