On the same day as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Twitter and others attack the US government for spying on its own citizens, documents have been released that show how the USA's National Security Agency NSA) is using video games-related networks including Microsoft's own Xbox Live.
Not only this, but the NSA has been infiltrating World of Warcraft, Xbox Live and Second Life since 2008 according to the documents jointly published today by The Guardian, The New York Time and ProPublica.
"We are unaware of any surveillance taking place," said a spokesman for Blizzard Entertainment, based in Irvine, California, which makes World of Warcraft. "If it was, it would have been done without our knowledge or permission."Second Life
on the other hand does not emerge from this situation well. According to the report
"In 2007, as the NSA and other intelligence agencies were beginning to explore virtual games, NSA officials met with the chief technology officer for the manufacturer of Second Life, the San Francisco-based Linden Lab. The executive, Cory Ondrejka, was a former Navy officer who had worked at the NSA with a top-secret security clearance.
"He visited the agency's headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland, in May 2007 to speak to staff members over a brown bag lunch, according to an internal agency announcement. "Second Life has proven that virtual worlds of social networking are a reality: come hear Cory tell you why!" said the announcement. It added that virtual worlds gave the government the opportunity "to understand the motivation, context and consequent behaviors of non-Americans through observation, without leaving U.S. soil."
In terms of Xbox Live, "In the 2008 NSA document, titled 'Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments,' the agency said that 'terrorist target selectors' - which could be a computer's Internet Protocol address or an email account - 'have been found associated with Xbox Live, Second Life, World of Warcraft' and other games. But that document does not present evidence that terrorists were participating in the games."
No mention was made of PlayStation Network or PlayStation Home.