Reports from Snowden’s secret documents revealed that the NSA and GCHQ heavily monitored communication channels of online video games, with the intent of discovering terrorists groups congregating online. With millions of online gamers across the world, secret intelligence organizations saw the virtual world as a valuable asset for counter-intelligence.
Whether the NSA or GCHQ ensured that privacy of innocent gamers wasn’t violated is unclear, as well as the full extent of the surveillance. The secret operation from the NSA and GCHQ which commenced in 2007 uncovered links between data acquired from games with ip and email addresses of terrorist groups. The operation however, was unable to determine whether terrorists were in fact playing the games, as computers could be shared in public settings such as internet cafes.
The producer of widely popular game World of Warcraft disclosed to The Guardian that they were not aware of any surveillance conducted by the NSA, GCHQ, or other secret intelligence organization. “We are unaware of any surveillance taking place…If it was, it would have been done without our knowledge or permission,” said a spokesperson for Blizzard Entertainment. Microsoft and the founder of Second Life declined to comment from requests of The Guardian.
The GCHQ made a request to the NSA circa 2008 to extract meta-data from World of Warcraft with hopes of uncovering links from online profiles to Islamic extremism. Activities extended to other online gaming communities such as Xbox Live and once popular virtual world Second Life.
via The Guardian