The Guardian has revealed the latest secret documents disclosed by whistle-blower Edward Snowden and they allege that both the National Security Agency (NSA) and the U.K.’s GCHQ have “have built mass-collection capabilities against the Xbox Live console network.”
It is also alleged that they have also created “”exploitation modules” against Xbox Live.
A 2008 NSA document titled “Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments” described online gaming as a “target-rich communications network” where intelligence targets could “hide in plain sight”, with an analyst suggesting online gamers “are an opportunity!”
During the build-up to the Xbox One launch there were concerns that the Kinect camera was “always on”.
“Given that gaming consoles often include voice headsets, video cameras, and other identifiers, the potential for joining together biometric information with activities was also an exciting one,” explained The Guardian.
Microsoft has declined to comment, as has Philip Rosedale, the founder of Second Life, a virtual world that has also been allegedly under surveillance.
GCHQ did issue a statement which said the agency did not “confirm or deny” the allegations but said any spying had been legal and above board.
“All GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that its activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the interception and intelligence services commissioners and the Intelligence and Security Committee.”
The agencies also allegedly targeted World of Warcraft with real-life agents deployed in to the virtual world to hunt out terrorist activity. “We are unaware of any surveillance taking place,” said a spokesman for Blizzard Entertainment. “If it was, it would have been done without our knowledge or permission.”
By May 2008 the NSA “had begun a deliberate effort to extract World of Warcraft metadata from their troves of intelligence” and tried to link them to individuals who may be involved with terrorist activities.
“Al-Qaida terrorist target selectors and … have been found associated with XboxLive, Second Life, World of Warcraft, and other GVEs [Games and Virtual Environments],” explains one of the leaked documents. “Other targets include Chinese hackers, an Iranian nuclear scientist, Hezbollah, and Hamas members.”
The news comes as Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, AOL and Yahoo have joined forces to set up a website called Reform Government Surveillance, in which they ask the U.S. government to change its surveillance laws.
“The undersigned companies believe that it is time for the world’s governments to address the practices and laws regulating government surveillance of individuals and access to their information,” reads a statement on the site.
“While the undersigned companies understand that governments need to take action to protect their citizens’ safety and security, we strongly believe that current laws and practices need to be reformed
Source: The Guardian