Gov't agencies have been hunting terrorists in World of Warcraft. Seriously.

It turns out that, while you were raiding, multiple governments around the world were raiding with you. 

It's been well documented that your phone is being tapped, and we generally accept that Google is probably giving out our information; but what you might not know is that, in an effort to track terrorist activities, agencies like the NSA and GCHQ are also investigating online videogame spaces like World of Warcraft and Second Life, too.

The NSA penned a document back in 2008 called Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments, wherein online gaming spaces were desribed as "target-rich communications network" that made it so intelligence targets like terrorists could "hide in plain sight."

With that in mind, myriad agencies around the world have taken to the wild world of Internet gaming in hopes that they might discover terrorists trading information in the open worlds of WoW and Second Life. "Buddylists and interaction" are being hacked; biometrics, audio and images from headsets and cameras are being gathered; and that's just what we've heard about so far.

There are so many agents out there, apparently, they have to be careful not to be redundant or otherwise get in each other's way!

And yet, with all those agents out there, there have been no publicly documented cases were terrorist activity was discovered.

World of Warcraft producer Blizzard Entertainment denies any involvement, saying, "We are unaware of any surveillance taking place. If it was, it would have been done without our knowledge or permission." In contrast, Microsoft and Linden Lab (Second Life's production house) have failed to comment at this time. It should be noted, however, that Second Life producers did allegedly speak with the NSA, saying that their game could provide "the opportunity to understand the motivation, context and consequent behaviours of non-Americans through observation, without leaving US soil."

Is any of this really surprising, considering that plenty of games already exist that romanticize battle and actively pursue army recruitment around the world? Nah.

What makes this more notable and newsworthy now, though, is the new sharing element that's been introduced with Sony's Playstation 4 and Microsoft's XBox One. If the latest console architecture is a predictor of things to come, then exponentially more people will have their daily online experiences easily accessible to government agencies in years to come.

All we're saying is, when you're sharing the video of you playing Need for Speed or Assassin's Creed, don't scream "Death to the infidels" in frustration. You never know who might be listening.

(via The Guardian)

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