Update: NSA spies were responsible for the paladin nerfs of 2008, 2009, and 2011. 2010 was legit though. #NSAInWoW
— WoW Insider (@WoWInsider) December 9, 2013
NSA analyst: "The guys in D section say we should check out terrorist threats on fantasy football sites, too. Could be serious."
— billmon (@billmon1) December 9, 2013
NSA supervisor: "HQ is good with the fantasy football idea, but you gotta take Victoria's Secret off the target list. Enough is enough."
— billmon (@billmon1) December 9, 2013
SRSLY, says the NYTimes:
Not limiting their activities to the earthly realm, American and British spies have infiltrated the fantasy worlds of World of Warcraft and Second Life, conducting surveillance and scooping up data in the online games played by millions of people across the globe, according to newly disclosed classified documents.
Fearing that terrorist or criminal networks could use the games to communicate secretly, move money or plot attacks, the documents show, intelligence operatives have entered terrain populated by digital avatars that include elves, gnomes and supermodels.
The spies have created make-believe characters to snoop and to try to recruit informers, while also collecting data and contents of communications between players, according to the documents, disclosed by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden. Because militants often rely on features common to video games — fake identities, voice and text chats, a way to conduct financial transactions — American and British intelligence agencies worried that they might be operating there, according to the papers…
But for all their enthusiasm — so many C.I.A., F.B.I. and Pentagon spies were hunting around in Second Life, the document noted, that a “deconfliction” group was needed to avoid collisions — the intelligence agencies may have inflated the threat…
The documents, obtained by The Guardian and shared with The New York Times and ProPublica, do not cite any counterterrorism successes from the effort. Former American intelligence officials, current and former gaming company employees and outside experts said in interviews that they knew of little evidence that terrorist groups viewed the games as havens to communicate and plot operations.
Games “are built and operated by companies looking to make money, so the players’ identity and activity is tracked,” said Peter W. Singer of the Brookings Institution, an author of “Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know.” “For terror groups looking to keep their communications secret, there are far more effective and easier ways to do so than putting on a troll avatar.”…
Putting a whole new spin on Security Theatre! As the old joke goes, at least it keeps these guys off the streets…
Apart from looking askance at all those level-90 Leroy
Jones Jenkins*, what’s on the agenda for the evening?
Guess I failed my saving throw, thanks guys
Hell, that’s nothing: they own all the bitcoins too.
Certified Mutant Enemy
It looks like some nerds figured out a way to get paid to play video games.
This is my shocked face.
I remember something being leaked a few years ago that there were discussions about doing this; I can’t believe they went through with it!
@Certified Mutant Enemy: Psh, there are plenty of paid gamers. Granted, most are way better than I’ll ever be, and the rest are streamers/commentators with way more personality than me, but they do exist.
Actually, it’s “Leeroy Jenkins”. The name was actually based off a fake-as-Velveeta television commercial originally, but quickly got adopted by us gamers.
Because everyone’s who’s EVER been on an MMORPG team raid will encounter one sooner rather then later. The one thing you never, ever want to hear into the 3rd hour of some raid or another:
“Oh my God he went in.”
Now I have to wonder how many NSA people are posing as Leeroy Jenkins characters just to mess with people’s raids.
Howard Beale IV
Corrupted Blood, anyone?
Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader
This makes me angry birds. I could candy crush someone.
As opposed to the actual Shamans and Paladins, obviously.
Not sure that people in the real world would be making bombs so they could receive payment in World of Warcraft spell books and other treasure, but I guess you never know ;-)
Jockey Full of Beaujolais Noveau
To be fair… those ARE chat systems.
My SL days are years in the past, but there was a fair amount of criminal/questionable activity on it (“exploitation of minors”, shall we say, being chief among them). And an enclosed Skybox at 4000 virtual meters is a pretty damned private place to have a (virtual) conversation. I’m not surprised (and, even back then, assumed it was being monitored in some way or other).
Again… mission creep. A thing that happens when you give an agency a vague, overly-broad directive, and wads of funding.
Hey, that was an NCIS plot!
I’m more and more getting the mental image of a bunch of . . . . fucking jackassing-around kids who need a parent to mind them. This is what our spies do with our government money? Fucking spy on World of fucking Warcraft??
@C.V. Danes: It’s not really any different than any other electronic banking system.
The best description I heard is the one that allows Muslims to transfer money from the US to their families in the Middle East and in the other direction: You would go to someone you know here, give them money, they would write it down in their ledger and call up someone they know near the family, and tell them how much you paid, and that person would note the transaction and make the money available to the family. Eventually, the first person would receive one or more calls that caused them to distribute the original money to others. Because there’s a large enough amount of money moving back and forth, the numbers would mostly balance, but occasionally, the money people would have to get together to trade money to balance their books.
Reasonable expectation of privacy or absolute expectation of privacy?
@C.V. Danes: I suspect all the good stuff is Bind on Pickup, so we’re probably safe. For the moment.
Next thing, you’ll tell us that bloodninja is also an NSA plant.
Hey, it could be worse. At least your spies aren’t hanging out in Monaco, or tooling around in Aston Martins …
@Jockey Full of Beaujolais Noveau: “And an enclosed Skybox at 4000 virtual meters is a pretty damned private place to have a (virtual) conversation. I’m not surprised (and, even back then, assumed it was being monitored in some way or other).”
So, NOT actually private.
You could at least put in another sentence before directly contradicting the first one.
Nor would they. The Guardian has posted a single two-page document from 2007 that recommends that intelligence officials explore possible terrorist use of games for communications. (I’m not sure why the NYT piece calls it a 2008 document). The document notes that some U.S. agencies have conducted human intelligence operations in games, but it appears that this document is proposing more extensive analytics.
Y’know, I wouldn’t care about this at all (better for them to be deeply involved in searching out terrorists on WoW than bothering us real humans) but goddamn, do we have to pay so much fucking money to them to do it?
This only lends more credence to the idea that we should cut the DHS budget by about 80%.
I assume the NSA ‘investigators’ in the fantasy sports section turned over their winnings to Uncle Sugar.
If they didn’t, it could be the mother of all mega-scandals that brings down Obama!
I’ll await an announcement from Issa.
It’s nasty cold here. I blame Obamacare. Also I’ve read half this Joe Hill novel and that is enough.
@jl: “I’ll await an announcement from Issa.” Aren’t there car theft video games? He may be busy.
What are the odds of an American company ever doing something like this? Brilliant PR move
As I posted in a previous thread: apparently moles have used WoW to communicate with their handlers to arrange drops of classified information; it’s part of the standard counterintelligence briefings now. Which isn’t considered terrorism, so the Guardian and Times stuff is technically true, but misleading in implying that there’s no known security threat vector here.
Would be funny to watch, though: some analyst dude in his office working on a spreadsheet, then his supervisor walks in and analyst dude quickly boss-keys over to WoW before supervisor notices.
71 percent of public school children in Mississippi are in poverty.
@IowaOldLady: My oldest makes is first plane flight ever home from Des Moines on Friday, so we are constantly watching Iowa weather.
I’m surprised they are not going after EVE Online, because that’s where real gamers MMORPG.
No sissy admins to hold your hand.
I’d think hanging out by a low sec jump gate to gank a noob, who hasn’t figured out how to plan a 30 jump trip yet would be great terrorist training.
“Hey, Achmed we could just hang out in IRL like this”
“Yeah, just got keep on the down low at the Circle K and the stash handy”
“Death to America”
“Yeah bro one circle k at a time”
Thanks. I thought about catching up on the prior thread, then I decided to bash my skull in with a hammer instead.
Do we have proof that that these activities took place? User ID’s of government agents? Anything?
@Belafon: It’s not snowing. Just unbelievably cold. Your son should be all right if that’s all it is.
@Gene108: One of the American’s killed in Benghazi was a big player in EVE as Vile Rat. That alone is a red flag! Red flag, I tell you!
NSA types like to call people “faggots,” so if you’ve ever been called a faggot in an online game, you know that the NSA has infiltrated it.
James Bond is not a spy, he is an agent.
And worst socialist ever:
@ericblair: Maybe so, but seems to be that pretty much any public communications system could be infiltrated to give signals about specific schemes and illegal activity, which might deserve a very targeted approach or a dragnet, depending on the evidence. So it might be a fiendish invasion of privacy that needs to be outed, an important investigative tool that should not be outed, or maybe a goofy waste of time and money. So, two of those three possibilities would warrant an investigation of what is up with the NSA, say by Isaa, in another world, which would be maybe conceivable, but maybe not possible, in which he were honest and competent.
I think Victory Secret definitely should be on the list for thorough examination. A lot of those models are women, you know, who tend to have feminized ideas about good deeds and providing social services to poor people, which is suspicious and a favorite tool of the ‘social service’ wings of groups like Hamas.
Also too, they do these funny poses and hand gestures and looks in Victoria Secret catalogs, and those might be gang signs or secret messages. I’ll write a proposal to to investigate the Victoria Secret threat, which will involved mass quantities of ogling Victoria Secret ads, and certainly personal interviews with the most sussicious models, and send it in.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
Is Our Republicans Learning?
@MattR: Holy crap, that’s awesome.
Villago Delenda Est
The undead rogue that is stunlocking you is actually an Al Qaeda operative.
I knew it, I knew it, I knew it!
@Jim, Foolish Literalist:
‘ Iowa Republican Senate candidate Mark Jacobs said the best way to connect with women is on an “emotional level.” ‘
I will eagerly await the forward looking study by beery frat boy GOP PR tacticians on the preferred times of the month for delivering ’emotional level’ pitches. And will enjoy the cries of persecution and unfairness when it is misunderstood by normal people.
Unless you’re the guy who said he wanted world peace. Then you got hosed.
Villago Delenda Est
“No you don’t look fat in those pants.”
You can all relax now. Newt’s feeling better and is his old self again.
@gnomedad: Oh noes! I tearfully declare my joke recommendation to send Lil’ Newtie as a decent representative of the GOP to the memorials next week to be non-operative.
Edit: this is the Zombie/Godhead/Atman Reagan effect. It was Ok for Newt to accuse conservatives of the time of not understanding and supporting Mandela, but when that possibly implicated the ground of all being, the Atman Reagan, by inference, deduction, and putting one plus one toegether, Newt had to backpeddle.
I would think that Newt of all people would have been able to foresee this from many intersecting dimensions at multiple levels.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist:
Now our Republicans is learnin’.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist:
Good advice. I see no possible way a Republican could screw that up.
On the Youtube page, someone asked who downvoted the video. The response was “the guy who asked for socks and underwear”.
The “Santa’s bloopers” video actually includes someone asking for the Bruins to win the Stanley Cup and Santa laughs and responds “I am not a miracle worker” so it sounds like Santa tried to redirect people to request an actual, achievable object.
@PeakVT: And 48% of public school kids overall. Thank goodness kids being poor doesn’t make it harder to teach them, or else we might be in trouble!
@Jim, Foolish Literalist: I connected with that on an emotional level, so perhaps he has a point.
Would like to see the methodology on this.
Poverty rates in the USA are between 20 to 25%.
90%+ of Americans go to public schools.
How can 48% be poor?
Just from an intuitive stand point the numbers do not make sense to me.
@Gene108: Poverty is more common in younger people. Younger people are more likely to have school aged children.
@Jockey Full of Beaujolais Noveau: Exactly. It doesn’t surprise me that the NSA hoovers up this information and throws it into the mix. You don’t have to put on your neocon hat to see two people using this system to exchange information if they thought it was safe. I’ve never played, but I assume if you’re NOT talking about shooting people and blowing shit up, it would almost be more suspicious than if you weren’t, no?
It is well known that organized crime is using online game currency to launder money. But that is a separate issue.
Villago Delenda Est
What a fucking weasel. To bring forth yet another Harry Potter analogy, it’s like Wormtail’s silver hand strangling him for showing any sign of mercy or repentance.
If they thought they were going to obtain “intelligence” that way, they’ve obviously never read Barrens chat.
GHayduke (formerly lojasmo)
But Obama is losing the dudebros! He MUST do something about this!
@Dolly Llama: Thousands of people use online games just for chat. They may do a quest or two now and then, but many spend almost all of their time in world just chatting. So yeah, it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising for people planning all sorts of things to use a game to communicate. People get married after “dating” in game. IRL married.
Of course the only way to get real info about possible threats would be to a) hoover up all chat on the back end and filter for keywords or b) know specifically who you’re after and follow all of their contacts. Just hanging out in the town square listening to people talk isn’t going to net you any more info online than it would offline.
Villago Delenda Est
Gene, this is really simple. In Mississippi, most of the affluent white kids are in “Christian Academies” that don’t allow darkies in. They’re not in the public schools, where the darkies are.
Yeah, these are the same agencies that said the Soviets had us beat in defense spending, missile stockpile, etc.
It’s funny how much of our treasury has been wasted since the end of WWII chasing the Next Big Threat. Not so much ‘ha ha’ funny, more of a pathetic funny.
“I put on my robe and wizard hat…”
Tell lamh35 Idris is on Rev Al!
Only the NSA can reach her in time!
@Baud: Yea, I suspect he’ll be on some other shows since he plays Mandela in the new film.
@Seanly: usually because we were preparing to fight the last war rather than the next one.
This makes me want to reread Neal Stephenson’s RPG thriller Reamde.
@raven: He (Idris Elba) is scheduled to be on All In With Chris Hayes/MSNBC tonight
Someone moved a pan to the wrong drawer. Must’ve been the NSA. BJ Detective Agency, your services are needed!
Studly Pantload, the emotionally unavailable unicorn
@MattR: I tell ya what, the folks who *didn’t* ask for the big-screen TVs were probably kicking themselves all the way their destination (and then some).
“I got a 48″ plasma screen! What’d you get?”
Are you sure it wasn’t Obamacare? I hear it does shit like that.
So, since it’s an open thread, my mom and I are now having an actual fight over the fact that she won’t come out here for Christmas. This is even less fun than it sounds like.
@skerry: Yea, I think he’s hangin in the green room.
GHayduke (formerly lojasmo)
OT: When are they going to stop using television inches for speakers? Who the fuck uses the television speakers?
Since this is an open thread: Holy. Jeebus. Fuck. I don’t even have words for this.
You’ve obviously never been in love.
Obama’s stealth agent is hoping for another crack at GZ.
@Studly Pantload, the emotionally unavailable unicorn: I am sure this turned into a nightmare for at least one set of parents where one kid asked for something polite and reasonable while the other one was more audacious and asked for something expensive.
Sorry, NSA, the terrorist is in another castle!
@Baud: Hell I’ve even been in a psychologically manipulative relationship and I still was never that stupid. She does realise she’s admitting to a crime right?
I just posted something about shopping in the UK and it occurs to me that I may have hit on a good point (for a change) why are US consumers being denied access to bacon? Bacon is a right, bacon is as American as apple pie, why do US consumers get denied bacon? The evil food producers in the US are denying the American people bacon.
A good ole fashioned Brit saying “when you see what some Women marry you realize how much they hate working for a living”. Seems to be the case here.
And more than likely is going to be charged with the court costs for bringing frivolous charges. You have no idea how many plaintiffs want to drop the charges and have the court costs paid by the defendants on a regular basis here in my county. So long as someone pays the costs the DAs don’t give a shit. Someone has to pay their salaries right?
She’s probably assuming they won’t charge her with making a false report ’cause she, like, pregnant and stuff. But it’s a really bad idea to retract your statement to police and accuse them of manipulating you into making it if it’s your word against the police.
Or Charles Stross’s _Halting State_.
Because when you can BBQ a whole hog, why would you turn it into bacon?
@Gene108: Poverty is not evenly distributed amongst age groups. The elderly are one of the richest cohorts we have. Likewise a single mother in poverty with three kids would be one way where the proportion of school-aged people in poverty would be higher than the number of adults in poverty.
Fox News Paid Fired Executive $8 Million to Keep Quiet
Roger Ailes’ secrets command a heavy price. Last week, the New York Times reported that Fox News had reached an out-of-court settlement with Brian Lewis, the former Roger Ailes aide who was abruptly fired in late July. A Fox News executive with knowledge of the negotiations told Gawker that Lewis was paid approximately $8 million in hush money.
“The big talk at work, especially today, is the settlement number,” the executive said on Friday, explaining that the exact figure had been filtering through the channel’s rank-and-file since early November.
The settlement came after an extraordinary, months-long confrontation during which Fox News accused Ailes’ former right-hand man of vague “financial irregularities,” and Lewis’ attorney angrily responded that Ailes had a lot to lose if Lewis ever spilled the beans on their 17-year-long partnership at the right-wing network.
@Yatsuno: Someone discussed the optics of the situation with her over a big bag of money.
@Gene108: The federal poverty income limit for a family of four is about half what the limit is for free or reduced price lunches. That’s how 20 to 25% of school kids in poverty become 48%.
Private school students are also eligible for the program–probably not common in the wealthier academies but sure a fact of life in parochial schools.
The nit having been picked, let me add that the numbers suck no matter how you count them.
Bag of cash from ALEC, which means the Kochs.
GZ is going to kill again before the end of 2014, no one could have predicted. Must’ve been the stress that caused him to snap.
Jockey Full of Beaujolias Nouveau
“Private” as in “away from other SL users”.
BTW the IM system logged the last 20 or so messages received while you were offline, for at least a month (much as FB does now). So I’m still puzzled as to where anyone got the ‘expectation of privacy’ from SL then (or from FB today).
“But for all their enthusiasm — so many C.I.A., F.B.I. and Pentagon spies were hunting around in Second Life, the document noted, that a “deconfliction” group was needed to avoid collisions — the intelligence agencies may have inflated the threat…”
had me thinking about how, in the 1960’s, there were so many undercover agents and “agent provocateurs” in the anti-war movement that some cells consisted mostly of undercover agents.
I’ll put five dollars on before July, 2014.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
Yawn, old news. Liden Lab was bragging about the CIA being in Second Life.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
Didn’t you hear one of the Goonswarm was killed at Benghazi?
Come on! You know if they are going in they are going full wallet warrior!
I was in the program and doing well, but then I took an arrow to the knee.