Report: Spies look for real terrorists in virtual worlds - New York News

Report: Spies look for real terrorists in virtual worlds

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In the online roll-playing game world of Warcraft players fight and kill computer-controlled monsters or avatars of other players. But it turns out hard core gamers may not be the only ones logging on. According to secret documents, games like World of Warcraft have been infiltrated by American and British spies in an attempt to discover and dismantle terrorist networks.

The information is the latest to be leaked by National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

"They're turning over every rock electronically, to use that metaphor, they will find what they're looking for," said Shelly Palmer, a tech expert.

So what are they looking for in these games? According to documents, the virtual world game Second Life and games played through Xbox Live were also under surveillance.

Palmer explains the games provide an opportunity for real time chat between players.

"Inside all the video games in question are real time chat environments which theoretically wouldn't be monitored because they're about game playing but they could also be a safe haven," Palmer said, "or people might think they are a safe haven, for people who want to communicate under the radar, but maybe not."

Inside Video Games New York in the East Village, we spoke to avid gamer and store manager Dan Mastin, and his boss, store owner Jukio Graziani, to get their takes on the latest spying disclosures.

"I don't think any of it is justified, the reach is kind of too far," Mastin said.

Graziani said: "If you're looking for people who are terrorists, I have no problem with it, but are they looking for something else?"

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