NSA Infiltrates World of Warcraft and Xbox Live in Search of Terrorists

Okay now it’s just getting goofy.

Not content with the ability to read our emails, listen to our phone calls, track our internet traffic, the NSA has officially cracked the online continent of Azeroth with their own Horde of undercover Mages, Warlocks, and virtual Warriors. According to documents released by the New York Times, ProPublica, and the Guardian (courtesy of our favorite whistleblower Edward Snowden), the NSA along with its British counterpart GCHQ have been spying and spellcasting on servers in games such as World of Warcraft, Second Life, and Call of Duty on Xbox 360.

The NSA document, written in 2008 and titled Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments, plays up the risk of leaving games communities under-monitored, describing them as a “target-rich communications network” where intelligence targets could “hide in plain sight”. Along with raiding and using vast resources of taxpayer money to keep their guilds and respect within the game at a high enough level as to not seem suspicious, the group in charge of the operation even went as far as creating a guild that would seek to recruit informants from the open selection of tech-savvy players in the game.

“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],” the document notes. “Other targets include Chinese hackers, an Iranian nuclear scientist, Hizballah, and Hamas members”

And as promising as that quote makes their quest for justice look, there is zero evidence these programs actually had any discernible effect on the real world, and no arrests were made, leads found, or terrorists plots foiled while Uncle Sam and the Queen were paying people to play video games on our federal dime.

When pressed on the issue, a spokeswoman for the GCHQ neither confirm nor denied the existence of the program:

“All GCHQ’s work is carried out 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.”

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