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Author Topic: When did the world of the NSA and technology get so surreal?  (Read 3142 times)

wraith808

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When did the world of the NSA and technology get so surreal?
« on: December 09, 2013, 06:08:12 PM »
I toyed with putting this into one of the existing threads, but decided not to.  This is really... surreal.  Reads like a novel.  When did our lives become cheap pulp espionage novels?

NSA and GCHQ collect gamers' chats and deploy real-life agents into World of Warcraft and Second Life

Quote
The NSA document, written in 2008 and titled Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments, stressed the risk of leaving games communities under-monitored, describing them as a "target-rich communications network" where intelligence targets could "hide in plain sight".

Games, the analyst wrote, "are an opportunity!". According to the briefing notes, so many different US intelligence agents were conducting operations inside games that a "deconfliction" group was required to ensure they weren't spying on, or interfering with, each other.

If properly exploited, games could produce vast amounts of intelligence, according to the NSA document. They could be used as a window for hacking attacks, to build pictures of people's social networks through "buddylists and interaction", to make approaches by undercover agents, and to obtain target identifiers (such as profile photos), geolocation, and collection of communications.

The ability to extract communications from talk channels in games would be necessary, the NSA paper argued, because of the potential for them to be used to communicate anonymously: Second Life was enabling anonymous texts and planning to introduce voice calls, while game noticeboards could, it states, be used to share information on the web addresses of terrorism forums.

Given that gaming consoles often include voice headsets, video cameras, and other identifiers, the potential for joining together biometric information with activities was also an exciting one.

But the documents contain no indication that the surveillance ever foiled any terrorist plots, nor is there any clear evidence that terror groups were using the virtual communities to communicate as the intelligence agencies predicted.

More at link.

rgdot

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Re: When did the world of the NSA and technology get so surreal?
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2013, 09:09:57 PM »
It's the stuff of Hollywood high budget flops, that's for sure. If they actually gain anything from doing this I would be beyond shocked.

Target

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Re: When did the world of the NSA and technology get so surreal?
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2013, 10:12:12 PM »
listening to all this stuff I can't help wondering how much of this stuff is real and how much obfuscation

disinformation is as powerful as information in the intelligence game...

SeraphimLabs

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Re: When did the world of the NSA and technology get so surreal?
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2013, 03:05:19 PM »
I have one very strong objection to this plan, based on personal experience with these types of games (and probably being watched in them).

The people who play them are typically people who aren't going to do anything outrageous in real life. With some rare exceptions, people spending vast amounts of time indulging in a MMORPG usually are the same people that might talk big but not actually act on it.

Also it seems my news is a day late, you guys posted this yesterday and I just found out about it a few hours ago.

CWuestefeld

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Re: When did the world of the NSA and technology get so surreal?
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2013, 01:48:38 PM »
In general, I'm hugely opposed to this year's revelations about spying. Capturing our phone records, even just the metadata, if far beyond what the government is given the power to do.

However, I'm not very bothered by this action. It's OK for police to walk around the streets and take note of what they see. And it's OK for police to come engage me in conversations and, if I agree (whether or not I know he's a cop), ask to participate in whatever I'm doing.

If all that is OK in the real world, why would it be a problem for a cop to walk around a virtual world, taking note of what he sees, and engaging with other people.

The only problem is when they're watching something that we believe should be entirely private, or held in confidence between myself and whomever I'm interacting with. Surely if I'm in a virtual public spot in, say, WoW, I can't object to someone observing what I do.

wraith808

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Re: When did the world of the NSA and technology get so surreal?
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2013, 02:13:22 PM »
The only problem is when they're watching something that we believe should be entirely private, or held in confidence between myself and whomever I'm interacting with. Surely if I'm in a virtual public spot in, say, WoW, I can't object to someone observing what I do.

The problem with it in this case isn't privacy; it's use, waste, and idiocy.

J-Mac

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Re: When did the world of the NSA and technology get so surreal?
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2013, 09:32:52 PM »
I would bet that it's gamers who now work at the NSA who came up with this idea.  "Noooo... we are NOT just playing games at work; we're monitoring potential terrorist activity in the gaming and virtual environment areas..."

I mean, how do you manage to get a job like that? Convince your boss that you need to play games all day long in the name of national security? What a sacrifice for their country! Heroes, I say!

Jim

wraith808

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Re: When did the world of the NSA and technology get so surreal?
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2013, 09:54:23 PM »
I would bet that it's gamers who now work at the NSA who came up with this idea.  "Noooo... we are NOT just playing games at work; we're monitoring potential terrorist activity in the gaming and virtual environment areas..."

I mean, how do you manage to get a job like that? Convince your boss that you need to play games all day long in the name of national security? What a sacrifice for their country! Heroes, I say!

That's what the cynical part of me said when I first read it.  And my second thought was "how do I get this job?"

rgdot

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Re: When did the world of the NSA and technology get so surreal?
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2013, 10:13:42 PM »
NSA also has some people posting on forums  :o


 :P

Renegade

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Re: When did the world of the NSA and technology get so surreal?
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2013, 10:35:01 PM »
The only problem is when they're watching something that we believe should be entirely private, or held in confidence between myself and whomever I'm interacting with. Surely if I'm in a virtual public spot in, say, WoW, I can't object to someone observing what I do.

The problem with it in this case isn't privacy; it's use, waste, and idiocy.

Yep. If anything, an understatement.

Why not deploy the army to patrol children's playgrounds and see if there are any budding little terrorists?

And you pay for that idiocy with the money the kleptocrats steal from you.
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wraith808

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Re: When did the world of the NSA and technology get so surreal?
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2013, 11:53:26 PM »
^ Yup.  SeraphimLabs said it best...

I have one very strong objection to this plan, based on personal experience with these types of games (and probably being watched in them).

The people who play them are typically people who aren't going to do anything outrageous in real life. With some rare exceptions, people spending vast amounts of time indulging in a MMORPG usually are the same people that might talk big but not actually act on it.

That was exactly my thought (after where do I get this job).

Target

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Re: When did the world of the NSA and technology get so surreal?
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2013, 12:00:45 AM »
The people who play them are typically people who aren't going to do anything outrageous in real life. With some rare exceptions, people spending vast amounts of time indulging in a MMORPG usually are the same people that might talk big but not actually act on it.

wait a minute, I saw an article on line that said all game players are serial killers and/or mass murderers, lurking in darkened rooms plotting our massacre...

(and there should be enough keywords in that last sentence to get me well up the watchlists  ;D)