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News Link • Surveillance

NSA Also Spying on World of Warcraft, Xbox Live

• Joe Coscarelli, New York Mag.

The government even has its eye on elves and orcs, according to the latest nugget of news from Edward Snowden's NSA leaks. ProPublica, in partnership with the New York Times and the Guardian, reports that the U.S. intelligence community fears online games like World of Warcraft, Second Life, and Microsoft’s Xbox Live universe could serve as a “target-rich communication network” in which terrorists could “hide in plain sight.” So they're out there in the digital realm, gaming for our safety.

The classified NSA documents detail all of the perceived intelligence benefits of monitoring video games, noting that World of Warcraft in particular turned up “accounts, characters and guilds related to Islamic extremist groups, nuclear proliferation and arms dealing.” (Warcraft claims to be “unaware of any surveillance taking place.”)

Experts, meanwhile, are more skeptical there’s anything to be gained, as the games “are built and operated by companies looking to make money, so the players’ identity and activity is tracked,” in the opinion of cyber-security expert Peter W. Singer, from the Brookings Institution.

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