Online Fantasy Games Under Surveillance by Spy Agencies

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/10/world/spies-dragnet-reaches-a-playing-field-of-elves-and-trolls.html?hp

 

This is quite the interesting read. American and British spies have been conducting surveillance and collecting data in online games since around 2007. They believe that terrorist or criminal organizations are using networks like this to communicate, plot attacks, or trade money. So far they have not had any successful efforts in finding bad guys but they actually believe their are bad guys out there using these games. All of this surveillance has not been welcomed by the companies that make the games. According to the people at World of Warcraft, they were never asked for permission to let the government use their game for surveillance. 

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2 thoughts on “Online Fantasy Games Under Surveillance by Spy Agencies

  1. I was actually about to post this article. I think it’s really interesting and correlates to what we’ve been talking about this semester with the NSA leaks and government surveillance but also WoW and virtual worlds. I can see the ethical arguments people make but like we discussed with the government monitoring your actions, I don’t think it’s an issue if you’re on the game and using it to play the game. But then again, where does the government draw the line with what they’re monitoring. It’s crazy to me that they’ve moved from cell phones and emails to games such as WoW.

  2. As someone who has played online games similar to some of the games listed in the article, it is pretty alarming to see this. It seems like a stretch to believe that “terrorists” are discussing strategical matters and sending over money in an online game. Of course there is always that chance, but it seems incredibly unlikely that this is the case. Even if this was the case, it would be near impossible for the intelligence agencies to actually get any useful information from simply playing the game and trying to find out more information. If a terrorist attack was actually being planned, you would have to think that the terrorists will be smart enough to keep their plans secret to those whom they know they trust. I doubt they will be publicly broadcasting their plans. What I can see reasonable is that the intelligence agencies will go to the game companies and see if they can have access to their chat logs because then they would be able to quickly scan through the logs and look for any key words that stand out to them. Otherwise, I see this as a colossal waste of time and not a viable source of stopping terrorism at all.

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