Sunday, December 15, 2013

Spygames and paranoia 2: The World of Watchcraft

I finished Spygames and paranoia 1: No that's not Cthulhu on the patch by pointing out that people were worrying about the wrong thing.
If they want something to freak out about, it's the spying going on inside the World of Warcraft.  That's real.  It's also silly.  Stay tuned for more on this story.
I then procrastinated more at the end of Forging an Urak-Hai: an educational experience.
I looked for a text story to accompany this video, but instead found Orc And Dagger: U.S. Reportedly Spied On Gamers Online about the story I promised to cover as part two of Spygames and paranoia 1: No that's not Cthulhu on the patch.  I'll use that one in the morning.  Right now, I'm going to bed.  Good night!
Here it is, the morning of the next day, and I've already used that story in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Jade Rabbit lands on Moon), so it's finally time to post it here.

NPR via KPBS: Orc And Dagger: U.S. Reportedly Spied On Gamers Online
Bill Chappell / NPR
Monday, December 9, 2013
U.S. and British intelligence agencies have worked to infiltrate networks of violence-prone individuals who might unite for a common cause. And in some cases, the spies are also targeting networks that aren't regional terrorist cells -- they're online gaming communities, according to the latest revelation from documents given to the media by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

"Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments" is the name of a 2008 NSA document being cited in coordinated reports out Monday from The Guardian, ProPublica and The New York Times.

The reports describe spy agencies' push to infiltrate systems that allow millions of people to closely collaborate and even exchange money -- all through a veil of alternate identities.

The project involved spies creating identities in networks that include Second Life and World of Warcraft, according to the reports. Another arm of the work is said to have collected massive amounts of data from Microsoft's Xbox Live network and elsewhere.

The effort was not a small one, the news agencies report. In fact, so much anti-terrorism work was being conducted in the virtual worlds that a separate "deconfliction" group was tasked with monitoring spies from the CIA, Pentagon, and FBI so that they wouldn't interfere with -- or waste time spying on -- one another, according to Pro Publica.
This is a silly project for various reasons.  The more serious objections were raised in the New York Times story, summarized here by two reporters having a chat on WOW in character, pun intended.  Follow over the jump for the video.

NSA Spying in World of Warcraft and XBox Live

One of the most extraordinary things revealed in the Edward Snowden documents is the surveillance of video games like World of Warcraft by Western spy agencies.
I'm an MMO player, and while I can see that game communication systems could be hard to intercept by the government, the entire part about the game virtual currencies I find ridiculous for the reasons described above.  Laundering money through games would be a form of real-money trading, and that's a huge no-no.  People get banned for that all the time, and I've reported more players trying to buy and sell game currency with real money than I can remember.  I'm sure none of them were terrorists, just scam artists.

Now, this is a real threat to privacy, but it's also utterly ridiculous, as Jon Stewart and Aasif Mandvi point out in the follow video from Comedy Central.

That the clip begins with an image of the evil octopus wrapping his arms around an anime girl makes for the perfect transition from my previous entry.  In case you missed it, here it is.

I had no idea Jon Stewart was into tentacle porn.

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