Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Cyberterrorism and virtual worlds

(via Wiebke Abel and other sources) Many news sources have been carrying this story. Apparently, the United States intelligence services (who also brought you The Iraq War), are hunting for cyber-terrorists in Second Life and other virtual worlds. Apparently, those dastardly terrorists are coming to a screen near you, envious of your cyber-freedoms and your cyber-way of life, or something like that.

The BBC reports that the operation is codenamed Reynard, and the objective is to look for anomalous behavioural patterns which may give away a terrorist. Wired informs us that the intelligence services will automatically detect "suspicious behavior and actions in the virtual world." Anomalous behaviour? Now that I think about it, it is probably true. I thought that a Night Elf I was teaming with last night was acting rather suspiciously. He aggroed a large mob of dragonkin and wiped us out. Suicide tanking?

Seriously though, this seems to be just hype. I am hoping that this is just one of those silly reports that military services are prone to produce from time to time, akin to looking into mind-control techniques, UFO's, and stopping a goat's heart with thought alone. I cannot imagine that this is a serious proposal from the American intelligence services.

Juan Cole has an excellent piece in Salon on this topic, which can be boiled down to calling the concept of virtual world terrorism "laughable". I am reminded of Adam Curtis' The Power of Nightmares.


Sara said...

that's pretty crazy...I think I will stick with as my virtual world destination. they appear to be safe from cyber-terrorists.

Andres Guadamuz said...

Citypixel huh? Facebook meets virtual worlds meets pixelated art.

I like the concept.