Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2383

Spooks in game search for  terror trolls on the internet

Not limiting their activities to the earthly realm, spies infiltrated the fantasy worlds of online games. Documents leaked by Edward Snowden show the spooks entered terrain populated by digital avatars.

The spies have created make-believe characters to snoop and to try and recruit informers. The reasoning went along the lines of: game players adopt identities. Terrorists use fake identities so…

Online games might seem innocuous, a top-secret 2008 National Security Agency (NSA) document warned, but they had the potential to be a “target-rich communication network” allowing intelligence suspects “a way to hide in plain sight.” 

So many spies were hunting around in one game, Second Life, that a “deconfliction” group was needed to avoid them bumping into each other. The documents do not offer evidence of any counter-terrorism successes from the effort.

Another project involved companies being brought in to produce apps that would appeal to potential suspects. The phones could then be monitored more effectively after the app had been downloaded.

In 2008 Britain’s GCHQ had set up its “first operational deployment”, code-named Operation Galician. 

The spies running the effort were aided by a virtual  informer using an avatar “who helpfully volunteered information on the target group’s latest activities.” Whether the informer was an elf or a wizard is not clear.  

According to the minutes of a January 2009 meeting, GCHQ’s “network gaming exploitation team” had “successfully been able to get  the discussions between different game players on Xbox Live.” 

One World of Warcraft game discussion had the measure of the spies. In it a human death knight with the user name Crrassus asked whether the NSA might be reading game chat logs. “If they ever read these forums,” wrote a goblin priest with the user name Diaya, “they would realise they were wasting their time.”

Cash for access and leaf blowing sadness

David Cameron went with family and friends, or key business people as they preferred to be called, to China last month. Troublemaker can reveal that accountants EY paid UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) an undisclosed sum to co-sponsor a lunch attended by the prime minister on his China trade mission. 

The UKTI is the government body that manages the public’s stakes in Britain’s bailed-out banks. The “partnership arrangement” allowed EY beancounters to break bread —well, smoked salmon and beef Wellington—with around 600 bosses.

  • At the bash was Sir Vincent Blank former chairman of Lloyds TSB. The issue that is keeping Sir Victor Blank awake at night is leaf-blowers. Sir Victor lives near an excess of foliage–Hampstead Garden Suburb, since you ask. But council leaf blowers mean his “sense of peace and quiet” has, sadly, been “eroded”.

Luxury jet to sugar the deportation 

The Home Office reserved a private jet to deport a man who had been on hunger strike in immigration detention for nearly 100 days. Isa Muazu was put on flight number EDC684. The inside of the plane is pictured.

This is registered with Air Scotland Charter Ltd, an aviation firm whose fleet includes Sir Alan Sugar’s private plane. Alan Sugar said that his jet would not be used in the removal.

Air Scotland Charter boast on their website, “Whether for business, or pleasure, a personal flight provided by Air Charter Scotland provides a secure environment where distance shrinks, time is conserved, and even money saved.”

The cost of the failed flight was around £100,000.


Victoria Ayling’s is a Ukip councillor on Lincolnshire county council.

She recorded a video with her then-husband five years ago when she was a member of the Tory party. 

She says: “We must basically [re]patriate those that shouldn’t be here. That’s not quite policy yet.

Maybe I should soften it a bit … OK, send them back.” Nigel Farage backs her.

Politicians, like Troublemaker, send cards at this time of year. None would dream of exploiting their children to send a family message though (above). But that is better than Godfrey Bloom who left the Ukip group in the European parliament. He referred to women as “sluts” and referred to “bongo bongo land”. He has produced a card with him holding bongos and his wife dressed in their idea of a “slut”.

MPs fake tiles are up for sale

THE latest money making wheeze at parliament is flogging old floor tiles. But Sir Alan Haslehurst, chair of the Commons Admin Committee, sounds a note of caution. “They may contain sharp edges and noxious substances,” he warns. So he recommended making reproduction tiles and selling them.

THE billionaire Tory peer Lord Ashcroft has offered to bankroll a campaign to reduce the prison sentence of a soldier jailed for murder. Sergeant Alexander Blackman last week was sentenced to life for murder. The soldier was videoed shooting an Afghan prisoner. Ashcroft has more than 150 Victoria Cross medals—though he gained none through battlefield exploits.

Troublemaker’s favourite banker Bob Diamond, ousted as boss of Barclays , is making a return to the City. The financier once dubbed the “unacceptable face of banking”, is trying to raise £153 million within the next two weeks. As yet there is no indication of his projected  bonus.

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Article information

The Troublemaker
Tue 10 Dec 2013, 17:47 GMT
Issue No. 2383
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