NSA and GCHQ inside World of Warcraft and Google Cookies

Two interrelated stories about our surveillance planet. The first comes from The Washington Post, which details how the agency is using “cookies” and location data to pinpoint targets for government hacking and to bolster surveillance.The second story comes from The Guardian, which covers a story about an internal NSA document that argues that online games are “target-rich communications network” where intelligence targets could “hide in plain sight”.

According to the document, GCHQ had already made a “vigorous effort” to exploit games, including “exploitation modules” against Xbox Live and World of Warcraft.

That effort, based in the agency’s New Mission Development Centre in the Menwith Hill air force base in North Yorkshire, was already paying dividends by May 2008.

At the request of GCHQ, the NSA had begun a deliberate effort to extract World of Warcraft metadata from their troves of intelligence, and trying to link “accounts, characters and guilds” to Islamic extremism and arms dealing efforts.

Meanwhile, the FBI, CIA, and the Defense Humint Service were all running human intelligence operations – undercover agents – within Second Life. In fact, so crowded were the virtual worlds with staff from the different agencies, that there was a need to try to “deconflict” their efforts – or, in other words, to make sure each agency wasn’t just duplicating what the others were doing.

<Insert joke about orcs>

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