Skip to comments.U.S., British spy on online fantasy games seeking terrorists
Posted on 12/10/2013 7:39:44 AM PST by Behind Liberal Lines
Giving a new twist to the term "spy games," U.S. and British intelligence agents have infiltrated the World of Warcraft and Second Life online fantasy games in their search for terrorists and criminal networks.
The spy agencies "have built mass-collection capabilities against the Xbox Live console network, which has more than 48 million players," James Ball reported in The Guardian. He based his account on classified papers leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, whose release of masses of documents detailing U.S. communications surveillance has made him a finalist for Time's Person of the Year.
Spies took on fantasy roles, snooped around the games, looked for potential snitches and collected information and communications between players, said The New York Times in an article jointly produced with ProPublica, publications with which The Guardian shared the documents.
The effort grew out of fear that terrorists, already prone to using fake identities and voice and text chats, could use the games to pass secrets, move money and plan attacks while hiding "in plain sight," an NSA document from 2008 indicates. The Times said another document from from the same year declared virtual games "an opportunity!"
The U.S. spy community got busy playing games -- so busy, in fact, that a "deconfliction group" had to be set up to avoid collisions among the avatars of NSA, FBI and Pentagon spies prowling Second Life.
(Excerpt) Read more at syracuse.com ...
We’re paying billions a year to spy on 10 year olds
I’ll tell my kid to watch what himself online, the Big Bad “American” government is monitoring him
So the World of Warcraft battles between the New Sylvan Army and the Coalition of Independent Avatars was just a interagency pissing match? Let me guess, a lot of terrorists are hiding out on fantasy football boards and on online poker sites too.
It may sound ridiculous, but online games DO offer a form of back-channel communication for the less-reputable types.
There was a criminal case a couple of years ago where a couple of folks working for the Mexican Cartels were using Xbox’s game voicechat feature to arrange for contract killings.
If there’s a reason to monitor all of the email and the skype conversations out there, then the same reason would apply to text and voice communication inside computer games. Or at least that’s what I’d tell my boss if I wanted authorization to play games all day at work.
Every hour an AQ terrorist is tied-down playing World of Warcraft is one less he can listen to radical sermons or work on his suicide vest.
I’d count that as a win.
Snowden isn’t stopping, I kind of hope someone takes him out. We don’t need terrorists knowing what we are doing to combat them.
I think that’s too late. IIRC, he already gave everything to the Guardian and they are just choosing to release it in dribs and drabs
Snowden has revealed the government is spying on EVERYONE in total disregard of Constitutional rights and normal expectations of privacy.
I kind of hope someone takes your computer so you won’t call for any more murders by the government.
You know, if the NSA and the CIA were doing their jobs, there wouldn’t be any Mexican “cartels”....which are just Mexican crime families.
If you think with all the assets these clowns have that they can’t get nail all the major traffickers, then how can we even hope to go after nuclear threats?
Mass illegal immigration into the United States (invasion) and mass drug trafficking by organized armed thugs (terrorism) has changed the United States in ways that can’t be counted. If there’s anything they should be doing it’s stopping that.
Warrantless wholesale data collection for a few off the wall cases doesn’t pass the smell test. If they are going to use extra legal powers like that, it damn well better be for something serious.
The invasion and takeover of the Southwest of the United States by a hostile, violent and fundamentally criminal population of foreigners qualifies as “serious”. When do they use their capabilities to do something we actually want them to do?
PS: the other day, a truck was stopped in Orange County with 24,000 pounds of pot in it. That’s 12 tons. Um, how does a semi-truck trailer load of pot get into the U.S. undetected until it’s 200 miles north of the border?
Just think: it coulda been a trailer full of Iranian nukes.
In central L.A. if it got 20 miles further.
Where were the idiots on that? Busy listening to my kid and his friends?
Life gets more and more interesting. Now we know the Regime is into spying on online gaming groups to detect terrorists in order, allegedly, to thwart them. What if, in addition to trying to thwart terrorists and criminals, the Regime is using this information to find and develop potential mass shooters like the one who perpetrated the Newtown massacre? Indeed, it’s surprising how that individual’s computer was immediately seized and how little information has ever been revealed about what was on that computer.
Before viewing this speculation as a bit off the wall, we need to realize that the Regime has already perpetrated one deliberate mass murder conspiracy, Fast and Furious, to attack the 2d Amendment. Since that one failed to create the necessary public hysteria, it’s only logical that, led by the Criminal in Chief, they’d try to develop a shooter to do a more frightful one involving little kids; hence, Newtown.
I find it interesting how few people understand the difference between intelligence-gathering and investigation of a crime.
Intelligence gathering, at least in this case, is by definition focused on trying to find people before they commit a crime. Preventing the crime or terrorist attack. That means, also by definition, sifting through massive amounts of information, most of it utterly innocuous and produced by completely innocent people, to try to isolate out that tiny percentage that is indeed a threat.
If we know who and where the threats are, they are not really much of a threat. They’re just some guy named Mahmud who wakes up in an alley with his throat cut.
Some think that allowing such investigation is too much of an imposition on our civil liberties, and I sympathize with that POV. They should just be aware that if this work is not done, then we give up much of our right to complain when the next 9/11, possibly a nuclear version, occurs.
There are, of course, entirely legitimate debates to be had about the margins of what should and should not be permitted.
Makes sense if you are a police stater.
There is a lot of chat on those games and it is a good place to hide conversations.
Sorry, but this sounds EXTREMELY silly.
“...documents did not offer any counter-terrorism successes resulting from the effort.”
You are totally correct.
Now that this is well known, the terrorists are going go congregate somewhere else. The spies are going to be following each other through the digital fields and forests
Do terrorists play World of Warcraft?
Geez, with people like you, who needs liberals? Your rights go out the door right along with the terrorists rights.
Naw, nothing so serious. I think the geeks in government just figured out a way to goof off at work and their bosses are buying it.
Boss: "Are you playing World of Warcraft at work?"
Employee: "Uh, no sir! I'm looking for terrorists!"
Boss: "Oh, okay. Carry on."
Except that they are spying on US citizens.
Terrorist don’t use that anyway.
How about we apply some logic to the situation.
The government refuses to follow the "law of the land" in actually building a border fence. They refuse to secure our borders and they allow all kinds of people in from every mid-east hellhole there is if they claim persecution. They ignore those staying beyond their visas. All of this is undeniably the truth
You claiming that we need to allow the government to collect data on everything we citizens do in the name of security is asinine. Perhaps we can discuss the data collection once the huge security holes are closed. On the other hand, you might find that once the big holes are closed, the need to monitor every everyone's emails and now online gaming is not actually needed at all.
I suspect that the feds are ignoring the border and other avenues for terrorists to infiltrate the US precisely to provide cover for the building of the totalitarian state they so desire.
That’s not the question. The question is do terrorists use the games communications to communicate their plans? Why wouldn’t they, aside from the monthly fee?
The financial and social markets have proven that only fools start fights with WoW. Despite all the jokes one can muster about the game or its fans, the sheer influence of the game has shaped internet policy in several countries, including the US. WoW is an online Atlas.
“There was a criminal case a couple of years ago where a couple of folks working for the Mexican Cartels were using Xboxs game voicechat feature to arrange for contract killings”
I used to play call of duty 3. Normally youre supposed to use the game chat to help your teammates. Call out the location of enemy tanks and jeeps, the hidden locations of snipers, enemy troop movements, etc.
However, during a game, many people would use the game chat for other worthless chatter that had nothing to do with the game. In order to put a stop to all that noise, I would start to pretend that I was a mafia bookmaker and loanshark. Id carry out phony one sided conversations, making bets on sporting events and horses. Giving out loans at usury rates (”yeah, give him the ten thou’ with 3 points above the vig...”). And arranging to have peoples legs broken for being late in their payments. Wasnt long before all that useless convo on the game chat would come to a dead halt as all the other players would finally shut the hell up so that they could eavesdrop on me.
I guess im lucky not to have gotten arrested.
snowden is a hero for exposing this treason being committed by the goverment
Thanks for proving my point about people being unable to understand what counter-intelligence gathering requires.
Whether our existing government uses its powers wisely or not is quite irrelevant to what is required to isolate and deal with those who want to attack us.
I don’t recall saying anywhere that I want the government to be allowed to gather data indiscriminately. I merely pointed out that this is the more or less indisputable prerequisite of an effective counter-intelligence operation. Massive amounts of information analyzed to locate the few bits that make the difference. You will note that the “smoking guns” trotted out after 9/11 were pretty much all gossip and other non-criminal activities.
The price for restricting such information gathering is reduced ability to head off attacks. I make no assertions here about whether that price is or is not worth it.
However, I will make a prediction. Those loudest in denunciation of the government for its intelligence-gathering efforts will also be among its loudest critics the next time those efforts fail to prevent another major attack.
if the NSA etc has resources to monitor Farmville it’s time for a budget cut.
Exposing an issue is one thing, exposing all the ways the United States gathers information is a whole other issue.
He IMO went beyond justified long ago and deserves an end to his game.
You somehow imply that those folks are somehow in error. Totally incorrect assertion
The 911 terrorists overstayed their visas. Without even getting into the question of whether they should have been here in the first place, if they would have been rounded up and deported when the visas expired it would have prevented 911. Same thing with the borders. You can bet your ass I'll be hollering about the next attack because the people and supplies necessary to carry out such attack could have been prevented from being in the country in the first place with proper border control.
Securing our borders, and then wholesale monitoring of the communication going across those borders would make us much more secure than open borders and internal monitoring.
Now on to why you are so against our Constitutional protections...
I think they record everything, then data mine on key wordss.
That should read: You imply that those folks are somehow in error. Totally incorrect assertion
Serves them right for not playing a proper pen and paper Dungeon and Dragons game.
But that's the elitist plan.
Immigration laws are "racist" so leave the borders open, and just impose a police state to try and keep a lid on things
The Future for our children
They can turn on your webcam anytime they want. Even if your computer is not turned on. They can ping your cell phone even when it’s not on. When we got to where we couldn’t do without cell phones and computers and cable TV and the internet, we told the feds “Come on in. You don’t need a warrant. Look around all you want.”
Next the NSA (given the small chance they are not already) will infiltrate the porn industry. Porn films. They will CLOSELY monitor porn movies. Massage parlors that give “extra”.
In no time at all, their will be NSA porn stars, prostitutes and pimps. And a vast crowd of NSA personnel posing as “Johns” in case terrorists also happen to be “patronizing” the brothels and hookers.
And a whole NSA Division full time watching porn online in case terrorists become porn stars and start passing secret messages, like “Oh yes! Yes! Oh God, yes! More!”
The NSA does not anticipate problems in attracting recruits for their new “Terrorists Under Covers” Division. And even expects the Division’s “Street and Brothel Squads” to turn a tidy profit.
“Snowden isnt stopping, I kind of hope someone takes him out. We dont need terrorists knowing what we are doing to combat them.”
Jeez, what a total idiot you are.
I kind of hope someone takes all your communication devices away so we don’t have Americans so oblivious to the Govt’s shredding of the Constitution.
(new word for your vocab dude, “Constitution”....ah, no, not referring to your bodily health.)
“Thanks for proving my point about people being unable to understand what counter-intelligence gathering requires.
Whether our existing government uses its powers wisely or not is quite irrelevant to what is required to isolate and deal with those who want to attack us.”
Sigh...can’t see past your nose.
The Government encourages a massive invastion of illegal foreigners, spies, terrorists, welfare spongers and unregistered Democrats.
And does less than nothing.
But has to spy on every citizen and infiltrate online games.
Talk about re-arranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic. “Your end of the ship is sinking, Sir.”
Idiots like you justify this shredding and burning of the Constitution in case a terrorist is out there somewhere....with the open Obama Borders, arming of drug/terrorist gangs, arming of terrorists in Syria, you justify this sort of stupidity...ignoring the mass invasion of who knows who, but spying even on game playing?
Gosh, you are too dumb to breath on your own.
Terrorist porn stars!!
Of course, the next global threat!!
Snowmen is doing us all a great service—too bad you are too thick to see that.
“What if, in addition to trying to thwart terrorists and criminals, the Regime is using this information to find and develop potential mass shooters like the one who perpetrated the Newtown massacre?” —Libstripper
I think that is exactly what they are doing:
7-22-11 Oslo/Utoya Island slaughter, Norway 69 dead
Brevik has questioned said that he spent much time in the game [b]World of Warcraft[/b]... 32-year-old has previously explained his movements on Utøya as if he were in a violent computer game. Seven years ago he took a year off to concentrate on the game at full time.
12-8-11 Virginia Tech Shooting, Blacksburg, VA Ross Truett Ashley, 22 2 dead
He(ex-roommate) said Ashley enjoyed NFL games and the popular fantasy game [b]World of Warcraft[/b].
7-20-12 Batman Shooting, Aurora, CO 12 dead
A former classmate from the University of Colorado suggested another cause for the killings, describing Holmes as someone who had lost touch with reality after becoming ‘obsessed’ with video games.
‘I cant remember which one but it was something like [b]World of Warcraft[/b], one of those where you compete against people on the internet.
‘He did not have much of a life apart from that and doing his work. James seemed like he wanted to be in the game and be one of the characters.
3-19-13 University of Central Florida, James Oliver Seevakumaran 1 dead
pg 7 of 7 by Samuel Consgrove, Jr.
“He played video games in his room without leaving on weekdays, including “[b]World of Warcraft[/b]” and other online games, during this period.”
Maybe that was the “opportunity” they were talking about:
from the origonal link:
“NSA document from 2008: The Times said another document from from the same year declared virtual games “an opportunity!” “
oh ffs already, now our taxes are going to pay fat lazy gubmint spies to play video games all day long. I’m gonna quit paying taxes, fek em
Good. The government spooks need to keep sweating.
This argument asserts that the government should be allowed to carry out an agenda any way they like, or else pick up their marbles, go home, and leave the work undone. By this reasoning, if you object to Obamacare then you have no right to complain if the government shuts down its disease-tracking programs and allows new plagues to spread unchecked.
This is, to be blunt, absurd. The government's claim that it needs additional powers is based on its assertion that it cannot do the job with its traditional powers. Obviously, the question of whether they are making an honest and competent effort to do the job within their traditional powers bears on the validity of this argument.
If someone came to your charity asking for help, would it be "quite irrelevant" to your evaluation whether he stretches what money he has as far as it will go, or whether he spends everything he has on booze and lottery tickets?
I dont recall saying anywhere that I want the government to be allowed to gather data indiscriminately. I merely pointed out that this is the more or less indisputable prerequisite of an effective counter-intelligence operation.
Indiscriminate data gathering is the very opposite of effective counter-intelligence. It leads agencies down blind alleys (at best) or into abusive politicization (at worst) rather than to effective action against threats. This is why, for example, the Feds blew off specific warnings about the Boston Marathon bomber -- the signal got lost in the noise.
You will note that the smoking guns trotted out after 9/11 were pretty much all gossip and other non-criminal activities.
I note no such thing. The smoking guns were clear red flags (e.g. "hey, this guy wants to learn to fly a plane but doesn't care about how to land it") that were reported but not acted upon because even then the Feds were wasting too much time playing Pokemon gotta-catch-em-all games with the private business of honest citizens.
Those loudest in denunciation of the government for its intelligence-gathering efforts will also be among its loudest critics the next time those efforts fail to prevent another major attack.
Damn right I'm going to denounce them if they continue gathering up more and more irrelevant data about law-abiding citizens and losing track of actual threats as a result.
The police state has the added bonus of making it easy to crack a few heads when American citizens complain about having their wages shrunk by competition with illegal aliens.
Do get tired of repeating myself to the deaf.
Counter-intelligence in an era of terrorism consists of separating out the one in ten thousand marbles that poses a real threat. To do so by definition one has to look at all the marbles.
Once a marble has been identified as a threat, it pretty much ceases to be one. We can monitor and track it, and prevent it from harming anybody, usually.
This is an example of the fallacy of "Demon Theory #16".
Theory: If you say "abracadabra", knock on wood 16 times, and say "abracadabra" again, a demon will appear and grant you three wishes.
Didn't work? Oh, well. Try Demon Theory #17. If that doesn't work, maybe Demon Theory #18 will...
The point of this thought experiment is to demonstrate the inanity of blindly scooping up all possible data rather than formulating a plan of rational investigation and targeting one's research accordingly.