A scene from the 'World of Warcraft' expansion 'Cataclysm.'
(Photo: Blizzard Entertainment)
Spy organizations including the National Security Agency have reportedly set their sights on a new target: online video games.
According to a report from The Guardian, agents have covertly joined games such as World of Warcraft and Second Life to find terrorists hiding within the games' virtual worlds as well as recruit potential informants.
Citing documents disclosed by Edward Snowden, the report also says agencies "have built mass-collection capabilities" against Microsoft's Xbox Live online network.
Microsoft and Second Life operator Linden Lab declined comment, while a spokesperson for WoW studio Blizzard says no agency requested permission to gather information from within the game.
The Guardian also notes the documents did not say whether terror groups were using these communities, or that any plots had been thwarted.
The new finding is the latest in a series of reports detailing online spying by the NSA. Most recently, a Washington Post report claims the NSA tracks and stores 5 billion cellphone records every day.
The online spying allegations have prompted tech companies including Facebook, Google, Twitter and Yahoo to create a Reform Government Surveillance coalition to limit the government's ability to collect online data.
- by Brett Molina, USA Today