NSA spied on gamers on ‘World of Warcraft’ and other online games
A nearby orc in ‘World of Warcraft’ or a friendly passerby in “Second Life” online gamers encountered may have actually been members of United States or British intelligence services. Newly released classified documents reveal that spies from organizations such as the NSA infiltrated online games and simulated experiences, which they said could become “target-rich communication networks,” in an attempt to search for terrorist networks operating within.
The documents, which date back to 2008, were released from Edward Snowden by The Guardian in collaboration with The New York Times and ProPublica. ProPublica reports that the documents didn’t reveal any successful counterterrorism efforts in-game, though many different spies from different agencies were involved in infiltrating the games that a “deconfliction” group was needed to ensure they weren’t spying on or interfering with each other.
In addition to creating fake players, they also send in packet-sniffing software to catch information about players, groups, and accounts and any patterns among them that might indicate terrorism or radicalism.
It’s uncertain from these leaked documents whether or not these programs are active today or if the agencies still have access to these networks.