It seems like the gaming community’s worst fears have finally come to pass. Thanks to Edward Snowden and some documents he’s released recently, we now know that US and UK spies do, indeed, have the ability to listen in on Xbox Live conversations. Even more interesting is the fact that some agents have even been placed in World of Warcraft and Second Life.
The government seems to believe that the gaming community is a perfect place for terrorists to “hide in plain sight” and develop their plans without arousing suspicion. According to some new material from The Guardian, US and UK agents have been hovering over gamers since at least 2008. So far, there’s no evidence given that these actions have been successful in finding and stopping any terrorist plots.
While the intentions of the agencies are well, the internet (being the internet) is, of course, furious. Gamers and the rest of the internet don’t much care for having the government all in their business and invading on their privacy. Though I could also argue that the government has every right to monitor gamers just as much as I would. I could easily and legally eavesdrop on players if I felt like it. The players are in a public internet world where they are aware that literally millions of other people have the ability and right to listen to what they’re saying. I see both sides, personally, but my true and personal bias is siding with the rest of the internet. Games are a place where people can go when they feel like relaxing and taking a break from the real world and immersing themselves in a beautiful world that other people created for them to enjoy. I personally would rather not worry about a government agent misinterpreting anything I say and being federally questioned about any terrorist plots I might have unintentionally suggested that I had.
So far, Microsoft has refused to comment on the report, but Blizzard has said that they are “unaware of any surveillance taking place. If it was, it would have been done without our knowledge or permission.” The agencies, of course, used a bunch of long, fancy legal terms to basically say that everything they’re doing is legal, moral, and even necessary.
Obviously, I’m disturbed by this, and so are millions of other gamers. What do you think about all this? Is this something the government should be allowed to do? Are their actions justified? I’d like to know how some others feel about this. Thanks for reading and as always, play hard.