According to a leak by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the NSA and the GCHQ (UK's spy organization) assigned agents to infiltrate virtual website games such as World of Warcraft, Second Life and Xbox Live.
“Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments,” is the title of the NSA documents leaked by Snowden and published by The Guardian (in partnership with The New York Times and ProPublica) today.
The NSA documents claimed that gaming communities were "target-rich communications network" where suspected terrorists could “hide in plain sight.”
According to The Telegraph, this NSA plan was codenamed "Operation Galician" and was assisted by an informer who “helpfully volunteered information on the target group’s latest activities."
The NSA and GCHQ also tried to recruit informants among the gamers, but there were so many NSA agents at work that a new "de-confliction" group had to be created so that NSA agents didn't trip over each other.
But the NSA documents did not show proof of terrorist plots discovered via online games surveillance, or that terrorist organizations were using the online gaming sites.
However, the NSA document did state: “Al-Qaeda terrorist target selectors... have been found associated with XboxLive, Second Life, World of Warcraft, and other GVEs [Games and Virtual Environments].”
The World of Warcraft creators told The Guardian they had not given permission to the NSA or GCHQ to gather intelligence on their members and were “unaware of any surveillance taking place.”
Microsoft and Linden Lab, which owns Second Life, declined to comment.
The NSA documents prove, once again, the NSA was spying innocent American citizens, not terrorist suspects.
The NSA has used a warrantless web surveillance system to spy on Americans' phone calls, e-mails, search history and more, thanks to web giants such as Google, Apple and Facebook, which are now calling for an end to the NSA spying on their sites.