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NSA And GCHQ Allegedly Spying On Xbox Live Gamers

Big brother is watching.

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

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  1. Germanos
    Since: May 2011

    Ufff, glad I’m playing on PlayStation. We don’t have terrorists is our community :)

    Comment posted on 09/12/2013 at 13:18.
    • Darksidesystems
      Since: Aug 2010

      Presumably terrorism requires cross game chat.

      Comment posted on 10/12/2013 at 11:08.
      • Germanos
        Since: May 2011


        Comment posted on 10/12/2013 at 11:09.
  2. Bilbo_bobbins
    Since: Jun 2009

    I am not surprised at all to be honest. And it’s another reason I wont have an Xbox1 or anything to do with Microsoft in the future.

    Comment posted on 09/12/2013 at 13:19.
    • Airou
      Since: Aug 2009

      you do realise that this could likely happen on Playstation right? don’t see how its a reason to avoid some company’s product.

      Comment posted on 09/12/2013 at 13:37.
      • Bilbo_bobbins
        Since: Jun 2009

        it could yes, but I don’t have you use the camera if I don’t want to. Plus I have a lot more trust in Sony than Microsoft, who have been in the news more an more over this.

        Comment posted on 09/12/2013 at 13:44.
  3. Broonba
    Since: Mar 2009

    This shit is one of the reasons why I won’t have a camera connected to PS4 or any other console while I game. Even the camera on my laptop has been covered with tape.

    Comment posted on 09/12/2013 at 13:49.
    • WalkingP
      Since: Aug 2013

      This is why I refuse to have an Xbox One with their mandatory Kinect. The xbone is the NSA’s dream come true.

      Comment posted on 09/12/2013 at 16:40.
      • a inferior race
        I'm special
        Since: Jul 2009

        It’s no longer mandatory.

        Comment posted on 09/12/2013 at 17:25.
  4. TSBonyman
    Since: Dec 2009

    Apparently the NSA had teams working with various tech/software firms around the world for the last few years, under the guise of helping them but actually tricking them into implementing security leaks into a lot of services etc which they could then take advantage of.

    And Microsoft were previously exposed by Edward Snowden as having given NSA the means to circumvent their security.

    I would be very surprised if Sony weren’t also targeted – heck what about the big PSN hack a couple of years ago.. you never know .. *grabs tinfoil hat*

    Comment posted on 09/12/2013 at 14:08.
  5. Starman
    Since: Jul 2011

    Companies have to comply with these agencies when they request access so there’s nothing they can do anyhow. And don’t think Sony, Nintendo or any other company is exempt. They probably got into sonys network without needing help from them!

    Comment posted on 09/12/2013 at 14:12.
    • Wardy-77-
      Since: Mar 2013

      oooooh :D

      Comment posted on 09/12/2013 at 14:34.
    • Tuffcub
      On the naughty step.
      Since: Dec 2008

      Well that’s the point, they seem to been accessing the networks and spying without informing MS, Blizzard etc. All a bit dodgy.

      Comment posted on 09/12/2013 at 14:35.
  6. Dominic Leighton
    Since: Mar 2012

    Tin-foil hats all round! My wife already moves the PS4’s camera for fear that it can see her in her jammies!

    Comment posted on 09/12/2013 at 14:26.
  7. plutoniumdragon
    Since: Dec 2008

    Governments just like to spy, was there ever a time they didn’t? They must hate the thought that someone might be doing something they don’t know about (or more like, could tax!) …
    I think it’s a valid point that online gaming and suchlike could be a very useful resource for terrorists and criminals – but as anyone who has read 1984 and books of a similar genre might argue, is the threat real in the first place and what would ‘they’ have to invent if it wasn’t?

    Comment posted on 09/12/2013 at 14:56.
  8. SLUMMO316
    Since: Aug 2013

    This comment is hidden.

    Comment posted on 09/12/2013 at 15:29.
    • Tuffcub
      On the naughty step.
      Since: Dec 2008


      Comment posted on 09/12/2013 at 16:56.
  9. The Von Braun
    Since: Oct 2012

    I’ve been living within 20 miles of GCHQ Bude (formly CSOS Morwenstowe), a Sat.Ground station (upto 20 dishes, ground array’s etc), who’s activities remain classified and who’s staff are drawn from GCHQ+NSA, for all my life.

    So good chance my texts, mobile/landline calls, online activity been monitored at some point.Does’nt concern me in the least bit.Shit’s been going down for years, will continue long after i’ve turned to dust…

    Comment posted on 09/12/2013 at 16:21.
    • Andrewww
      Since: Jan 2010

      Strongly disagree. We should not just accept this disrespect of individual rights, especially if we got nothing to hide.
      Thanks, Snowden, for showing us how deep the rabbit hole goes… ;o)

      Comment posted on 09/12/2013 at 16:45.
    • Severn2j
      Since: Aug 2008

      Haven’t you heard? All of your texts, all of your calls and all of your online activity is constantly being monitored and has been for years. And it absolutely should concern you and everyone else.

      Comment posted on 10/12/2013 at 14:20.
  10. lambchop
    Since: Aug 2013

    I hope I’m not being monitored because if they are someones gonna be having a good laugh at my Resogun performance…..

    Comment posted on 09/12/2013 at 16:45.

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