Troubling new documents were released by The Guardian that confirmed that the NSA and its UK sister agency, GCHQ have spied on Xbox Live and World of Warcraft users. Whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the US and UK spies had, and still have the ability to eavesdrop on Xbox conversations. Even more troubling, the documents revealed that sleeper agents were purposefully sent to play games, such as Warcraft and Second life, in order to spy on players.
Both the US and UK government agents have been at this since 2008, paying close attention to all user activity. In a September 2008 memo from GCHQ, it was revealed that the organisation had “successfully been able to get the discussions between different game players on Xbox Live,” and that the agents were put in both aforementioned games to monitor users’ “buddylists and interaction”.
There isn’t substantial evidence that shows any success at discovering any sort of terrorist activity and plots, but one of the reports did state that the operation offers a “target-rich communications network” in which potential threats could “hide in plain sight”. The operation was run out of the Menwith Hill base in North Yorkshire.
Both Microsoft and Blizzard both responded to the news story. Microsoft stated, “We’re not aware of any surveillance activity. If it has occurred as reported, it certainly wasn’t done with our consent.” While Blizzard offered a similar statement, “We are unaware of any surveillance taking place. If it was, it would have been done without our knowledge or permission.”