Report: Xbox Live among online gaming services infiltrated by NSA

The latest leaked National Security Agency documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden have been revealed today, indicating that the NSA and and its UK sister agency GCHQ have entered into online gaming communities, including Xbox Live, to look for terrorist activities.

The documents, which were first created in 2008, were published by The Guardian today. Titled "Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments", it states that services like Xbox Live, World of Warcraft, Second Life and many other online gaming communities were considered to be a "target-rich communications network" for agents to enter and find terrorists.

The documents don't go into specifics on how the information is obtained inside these gaming networks and The Guardian points out that there is also no evidence that terrorists were in fact using these services to communicate with each other.

Microsoft has not commented on this new NSA document leak. Last week, the company confirmed that it would be beefing up encryption of its online services, in part because of fears that agencies like the NSA are somehow intercepting their data. Earlier today, Microsoft joined with other tech companies to ask the U.S. government for a reform of its current surveillance policies.

Source: The Guardian | Image via Microsoft

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31 Comments

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makes me wonder if the original plan that you xbone must be powered-on 27/1 all years long, are mandated direction from the NSA that Microsoft must follow.

They're getting frustrated most of their searches for "bomb planted" and "terrorists" were turning up mostly results for Counter Strike.

"Finding terrorists"...isn't that the goal of Call of Duty?

But seriously...of all possible avenues, gaming networks are the least of my concerns. As far as I've ever been able to tell, any communication taking place over gaming networks is limited to "STFU n00b" or "ur gay". They can spy on that all they want.

No surprise to me. When I did administration in the late 90s/early 00s on browser-based army and empire building strategy games (Warhammer 40k style for comparison) 30-40% of the users on the games I staffed were middle-eastern. I was even unwittingly a member of a 100+ member gaming clan that was 90% comprised of Hezbollah members and their clan servers for forums and voice chat were funded by Hezbollah I found out.

These guys are trying hard to catch up military tactics, and we've provided them access to some very interesting data. If you think there is no military strategy here, there are plenty of former military officers into this type of gaming.

Now I know the reason why these guys in Halo keeps killing me with headshots in Halo, they are agents!

Another thing, are these agents actually playing or doing their work. Sounds like mixing Business with Pleasure (not in a sexual way).

And MS is thanking you (NSA) for signing up for Xbox Live. You are part of their large Live Community.

Is this Snowden guy still alive? Or even a better question: did he ever exist at all? I find it very strange that he is in escape since April or so, but still every week he "leaks out" at least 1 piece of meaningless stupidity. I think all media has adapted a column for sensationalist bullsh*t, and since April they can can freely claim that under the "Snowden" label. Reader cannot actually find out if the newspaper is lieing or not, and anytime the validity of the content is questioned, they can refer to that "its leaked from that Snowden guy".

Tha Bloo Monkee said,
Xbox Live... terrorists... it all makes sense now!! /s

This kind of instant dismissal is exactly why potential terrorists would want to use Xbox Live as their communication network. Think about it.

watkinsx2 said,
Oooh, some NSA employees signed up to XBL to look for terrorists. Cue another sensationalist Neowin headline...

Someone didn't read the article....

watkinsx2 said,
Oooh, some NSA employees signed up to XBL to look for terrorists. Cue another sensationalist Neowin headline...

It's from an article by the Guardian (see the source link) which is a respected paper which happens to have one of the copies of the Snowden leak so I'd say it's a pretty legit story. It's also being covered by the New York Times here in the U.S. (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12...international-home&_r=0) and other reputable tech sites like ArsTechnica (http://arstechnica.com/tech-po...-and-xbox-live-other-games/) so it's not some biased thing that NeoWin cooked up. The other sites focus more on the WoW aspect because it has a larger user base but since this is not strictly a game site and it more MS centric it makes sense that neowin would focus on the Xbox Live aspect instead (which those other sites mention as well).

This won't stop until information on Congress members that they've probably been collecting starts leaking.