NSA And GCHQ Allegedly Spying On Xbox Live Gamers

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.

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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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29 Comments

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

  2. 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.

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

      • 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.

  3. 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.

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

      • It’s no longer mandatory.

  4. 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*

  5. 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!

    • oooooh :D

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

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

  7. 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?

  8. I knew this would be a tuffclub story as soon as I saw the headline

  9. 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…

    • 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)

    • 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.

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

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