To The NSA, Internet Surveillance Is A Game

NSA analysts eavesdropping on emails and web browsing habits can reportedly win "skillz points" and unlock achievements. Epic win!

Buried inside a must-read article by Der Spiegel on the National Security Agency's operations in Germany is info on the spy agency's gamification programs. Reportedly, just like many private companies, the American spy agency believes employees can be motivated through points and rewards.

Reporters Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach, and Holger Stark note that NSA analysts in Germany, working on the real-time Internet snooping project XKeyscore, could acquire "Skillz Points" and unlock achievements for performing certain tasks and working at a certain rate. Der Spiegel clams that analysts stationed in Hesse, Germany had the "highest average of Skillz Points" compared with other NSA departments participating in the training program—a strong indication that the NSA gamified Internet spying at outposts around the world.

While that news is surprising, there's another twist in the Spiegel piece: The trio report that the NSA office in Hesse paid special attention to monitoring non-U.S. citizens affiliated with Anonymous and collecting information on arms deals.

[Image: Flickr user Nelleke Poorthuis]

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