Terrorists are just like us. They use their computers, play video games, and chat with their friends on Xbox Live. Well, at least some of them do that.
That’s why the NSA has requested most tech manufacturers to install back doors on their devices that can be silently accessed upon request. As we’ve found out in recent years, most organizations acquiesced to this request.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve learned that the NSA has been targeting several games and gaming services in particular, including:
-World of Warcraft
Why did the NSA target these games and services in particular? Apparently, the NSA believed that the large populations and ease of communications between gamers made the virtual environments a popular hangout spot for terrorists.
It’s important to note, however, that the documents don’t say any terrorist activity was revealed after monitoring these gaming systems. In other words, the NSA may have spent millions analyzing twelve year olds exchanging virtual jousts in Call of Duty about sleeping with each other’s mothers.
It’s also important to note that Blizzard has denied any involvement with the NSA and that all NSA surveillance of World of Warcraft took place without its permission or involvement.
Linden Labs, the creator of Second Life, meanwhile, declined to comment on the case, which doesn’t bode well. And Microsoft, the creator of Xbox Live, has already been closely linked to the NSA numerous times in just about every leak that’s been released.
This latest leak also introduces the possibility that certain online games have been made with the intention of luring in terrorists and then monitoring their communications.
As bizarre as that seems, the latest documents allege that Hezbollah – the terrorist-backed Islamic political party of Lebanon – created a game called Special Forces 2 which was apparently used as a tool to recruit suicide bombers.
In response, the Pentagon also created its own games “with the express purpose of collecting data about gamers that would play them.” These anti-terrorist initiatives may have been creative, but it’s unknown how effective they were at identifying real threats to our security.
Edward Snowden leaked documents that specifically identified all of the above games and services and stated that the NSA has been accessing these channels since 2006. You can read the entire leaked report here: http://www.propublica.org/documents/item/889134-games