Abby Martin goes over the latest NSA revelations which outline how the agency has spied on online gamers in the World of Warcraft and Second Life, calling out how taxpayer dollars are squandered in these fruitless counter terrorism efforts.
Tag Archives | World of Warcraft
Is that elf watching you? ProPublica reports on fascinating classified documents unearthed from Edward Snowden’s trove revealing that NSA and CIA spies have placed numerous avatars in popular virtual realms:
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Not limiting their activities to the earthly realm, American and British spies have infiltrated the fantasy worlds of World of Warcraft and Second Life, conducting surveillance and scooping up data in the online games played by millions of people across the globe, according to newly disclosed classified documents.
Fearing that terrorist or criminal networks could use the games to communicate secretly, move money or plot attacks, the documents show, intelligence operatives have entered terrain populated by digital avatars that include elves, gnomes and supermodels.
The spies have created make-believe characters to snoop and to try to recruit informers, while also collecting data and contents of communications between players.
But for all their enthusiasm — so many CIA, FBI and Pentagon spies were hunting around in Second Life, the document noted, that a “deconfliction” group was needed to avoid collisions — the intelligence agencies may have inflated the threat.
The 2012 election featured many historic firsts, but surely all pale in comparison to the victory by previously discussed Maine state senate candidate hopeful Colleen Lachowicz. Despite advertising from Lachowicz’s Republican opponent attacking her over her online role playing, it seems that America is comfortable electing a gamer to public office. Ars Technica adds:
The attacks on Lachowicz’s gaming generated an outpouring of support from around the world. Supporters raised $6300 to promote her candidacy. Because Lachowicz accepted public funds under Maine’s “clean elections” law, she wasn’t legally permitted to accept the money herself. So the money was donated to an independent Political Action Committee.
Is the American public finally ready to elect a role-playing gamer to public office? In Maine, the Republican Party is portraying Democratic state Senate hopeful and World of Warcraft devotee Colleen Lachowicz as unfit for office because she “lives in an online fantasy world,” Kotaku writes:
Colleen Lachowicz is running for state senate in Waterville, Maine. She also plays a lot of World of Warcraft. According to Maine Republicans, this means that she is unfit for office. The Maine Republican Party has set up an entire website dedicated to digging up old forum posts made by Lachowicz on Blizzard’s online role-playing game.
Ironic — when I was a kid, being locked up in a Chinese prison and “forced” to stay up playing video games all night would have been my dream. The Telegraph reports:
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A 54-year-old prisoner at the Jixi labor camp in the northern province of Heilongjiang said he was forced to play games on the internet in order to build up credit that was traded by his guards for real money, a practice known as “gold-farming”.
In an interview with the Guardian, the prisoner said online gaming was a far more lucrative activity for the managers of the labor camp than the physical labor the inmates were forced to do. “Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labor,” he said. “There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb a day.
A research arm of the World Bank has produced a comprehensive report on the size of the grey-market virtual world economy in developing countries -- gold farming, power-levelling, object making and so on -- and arrived at a staggering $3 billion turnover in 2009. They go on to recommend that poor countries be provided with network access and computers so this economy can be built up -- a slightly weird idea, given how hostile most game companies are to this sort of thing...