Spooks of Warcraft: how the NSA infiltrated gamespace


Here I was about to make a joke about their Second Life experience leading the spooks to decide that a Flying Penis Attack is a major terrorist threat… only to find out it’s happened. Sort of.



I think “how” is far less of an issue than “why”… I understand the possibility of using WoW chat and Second Life for coordination, but has there ever been any actual recorded occurrence of that? Does the NSA even know what the term “Return on Investment” means?

“mmorpg are evil in a whole new way” – Assange/Manning transcript

Not quite what he had in mind, though.

If I had to guess, this was a way to get paid for playing WOW that didn’t involve being shackled into some Beijing sweatshop.


Having to read through trade chat in WoW 8 hours a day 5 days a week sounds like punishment enough.


Umm… no. No it doesn’t.

It’s not as if it’s actually accountable for how the budget is spent, after all. And to develop the requisite disproportionate paranoia, you have to be pretty bad at basic probabilistic analysis.

Maybe there’s some counter-insurgency knowledge to be gained from nerfing paladins. Or maybe Leeroy Jenkins was behind the Benghazi wipe.

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Everything we do online is being monitored. We got that. Everything. So really, all those bits of information that reveal that the 5 eyes have targeted another area of the web where people gather en masse are not news. It’s confirmation of what we already know. It’s peanuts. 4Chan will have a field day with it. The targeted companies will claim to have been in the dark and … that’s about it.

The really important information is still being kept under wrap (apparently more than 95% of the Snowden files), by the gate-keeping journalists who claim to be working for the public good.
Make no mistakes: they’re not working for the public good. They’re basically working for themselves and their cushy careers, which partly explains why they’ve already caved in to the US and UK governments’ efforts to scare them into compliance.

I disagree with your analysis. Given the way that the 24-hour news cycle tends to bury things very quickly, I think it is far better to have these “gate-keeping” journalists release a measured flow of reports. Keeps it in the public consciousness.

You are begging the question here; can you please offer at least some evidence that “they’ve already caved in”? Thanks. (Serious, not snarky, request. This is an issue I’ve been following devotedly, and I just haven’t seen what you claim.)


Circumspectant ergo sum.

As long as the Jihadists and spooks can remember the boss mechanics during a raid I’m fine with them.

I’m a little suspicious of that “SIG-INT” guild though.


Of course they do. They are very smart guys. It’s just they don’t have to give a second first thought about it. They don’t have to show a profit and their budget is very, very big.

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Listen to Rusbridger, the editor of the Guardian, playing the game of the UK government’s stooges. His is a tone of deference, to the point of reassuring them that he and his colleagues are indeed patriots who love their country. Pathetic.

Another example, also from Rusbridger: he sat on the story of UK Gov representatives coming in his office to ask him to “destroy” the Snowden files for two months before revealing it (in an utterly ridiculous article).
That sad episode should have been public knowledge immediately. But no, it couldn’t. Because it’s about scratching each other’s back … and not embarrassing the government.
(In case you didn’t catch it, Rusbridger did comply with the government by destroying the cache his journal had then without going to court).

In other words, non of this is about the public or transparency or democracy. It’s about the usual little games those elites play with each other. Your interests as a co-sub-human (i.e. a non-millionaire elitist journalist or government employee) are not the ones being looked after here … which you don’t seem to be upset about anyway since you’re championing the notion that, “Why, yes indeed, those brilliant journalists are far more capable that we are, non-journaslits, at reading and making sense of the information contained in those Snowden files.”

Final example? Who did the Guardian and Co. choose to work with? The NY Times. The same newspaper that supported the Iraq war. The same newspaper that sat on the NSA wiretaps story because the Bush administration asked it to.

That does not follow logically from either of your two prior points.

Your conclusion that I am not upset also does not follow from the evidence you provide. Further, I don’t think that journalists are more brilliant or capable, just that the US government doesn’t care what the people think, only what big corporations think. I think that the governmental response to the Guardian’s Snowden revelations is far more beneficial to people than the government response to Wikileaks’ Manning revelations.

I think you have a personal vendetta that I haven’t quite sussed out yet, and I think that is coloring the tone and substance of your remarks here.


I remember talking with a friend who was working at Electronic Arts some while back about the government surveillance back doors that they installed in all their online games. I think it was a response to CALEA, but what they were providing seemed to go beyond what was required by that act. I wonder how much of the surveillance is warrant-less. (I’m guessing all of it.) Because simply playing the game is pretty useless - you’d not be able to find, much less connect with, your targets and you’d be locked out of the private chats where any activity would be taking place.

The big question is if Blizzard were complicit in the surveillance (and trojan/hacking aspect). The Prism leaks from august suggest that there isn’t a single US tech company thats trustworthy. I seriously hope that their “good german”-behavior is going to bite them in the ass in non US-markets.

Blizzard claims ignorance, and I believe them, frankly. I suspect they put enough surveillance back doors into the game (as they at least believe they’re legally obligated to do by acts like CALEA) that the NSA can get in without Blizzard being any the wiser, and without them having to provide any “special” access.


if I had a dollar for every person in-game who claimed be a spook, I’d have had enough money to buy my own island in Second Life. I always thought they were just fantasizing teenagers.

My favorite line:

so many different US intelligence agents were conducting operations inside games that a “deconfliction” group was required to ensure they weren’t spying on, or interfering with, each other.

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What exactly will 4chan do with it? Hackers on steroids was overblown. This is not really news as it’s been pretty clear the NSA has been tracking absolutely frickin’ everything it possibly can. No, the news here is that they thought radical jihadists would play these games when extremists, by nature, tend to be very hard to organize already. Maybe the NSA is run entirely by guys that bought the propaganda that came out after the attack on the World Trade Center?

The NSA serves no purpose but I never hear any representatives consider cutting its budget down. At least every other department can justify their existence. Why is this ludicrously expensive part of the budget getting a free pass when it’s done literally nothing to stop an attack? Didn’t stop any homegrown events that happened, so they can’t even justify this incredible breach of personal security and waste of money.