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Hey did you just read the article here on Gaming Blend about World of Warcraft being infiltrated by the NSA? Well, it's not just World of Warcraft. Linden Lab's Second Life is another perpetrator of getting into bed with the NSA and worse yet, it's been revealed that Xbox Live and the Kinect were prime tools used to help the NSA spy across international waters.
GamesIndustry.biz has a startling follow-up report on the whole PRISM deal that was leaked by Edward Snowden, where it's revealed that...
“...agencies, which were recently revealed to have collaborated on a vast network of intelligence gathering operations which has included monitoring the communications of foreign leaders like Germany's Angela Merkel, has established these "mass-collection capabilities" within Xbox Live by utilising biometric data provided by Kinect in addition to more traditional information like email address, messages and IP locations. It's also claimed that various games had private chat channels, both voice and text based, monitored and recorded for future analysis.”
This jarring revelation is the sort of thing that had Australia's civil liberty director, Tim Vines, calling the Kinect 2.0 a “surveillance device”... because it is.
Vines' comments followed behind Germany's Federal Data Commissioner, Peter Schaar, who also called the always-watching and always-listening Kinect 2.0 a nightmare.
According to GI.biz report, the UK's spy agency had these words of comfort to share, in light of the community being in a bit of an uproar over the spying allegations...
"All GCHQ's work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that its activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the interception and intelligence services commissioners and the Intelligence and Security Committee."
Gamers, tech enthusiasts and general consumers alike have every reason to be skeptical about having the Kinect in their home, especially considering that the device does read and gather user feedback, including but not limited to voice recognition, face recognition, biometric feedback data, location data and personal information. The Kinect 2.0 also has heat signature tracking, infrared visualization and can monitor movement and sound through the dark with pinpoint precision. Although, following some concerns, Microsoft did state that users have "full control" over how much data and what kind of data Kinect collects and sends to "third-parties".
Ideally, the NSA could make perfect use of the aforementioned data threads to identify and find whoever they're looking for just by someone registering their data with Kinect and logging into Xbox Live. Just that easily, all your information is up and out there for analytical filtration and monitoring.
According to a statement by Microsoft...
"Indeed, government snooping potentially now constitutes an 'advanced persistent threat,' alongside sophisticated malware and cyber attacks,"
Previously, Microsoft released a public missive about protecting the data of its customers and rolled out a bullet sheet of measures they take to protect and secure sensitive information. However, none of that really matters when the NSA is filtrating information regardless.
As noted in Snowden's report...
"The agencies, the documents show, have built mass-collection capabilities against the Xbox Live console network, which boasts more than 48 million players," .... "Real-life agents have been deployed into virtual realms, from those Orc hordes in World of Warcraft to the human avatars of Second Life. There were attempts, too, to recruit potential informants from the games' tech-friendly users."
Hired tech infiltrators living amongst you, working against you... playing with you.
The black helicopters and tinfoil hat talk looks a heck of a lot more legitimate with information like this rolling out.
Microsoft has yet to respond to the latest report inquiries.