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Does Anonymity In Virtual Worlds Breed Terrorism?

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the threat-of-the-week dept.

Security 295

An Anonymous Coward writes "The Washington Post has an article about the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity's take on the numerous virtual worlds (e.g. Second Life) that have cropped up in recent years. IARPA's thesis is that because the Government can't currently monitor all the communication and interaction, terrorists will plot and scheme in such environments."

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no more than anonymity in the real world... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22330448)

no more than anonymity in the real world breeds bank robbery.

Re:no more than anonymity in the real world... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22330550)

I'm sure once They realize how comic their attempts to justify their jobs are, they will return all the tax money and do something productive.

Re:no more than anonymity in the real world... (4, Insightful)

_merlin (160982) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330570)

I'm sure once They realize how comic their attempts to justify their jobs are, they will return all the tax money and do something productive.

I hope you're being sarcastic. It's not like government bodies to ever admit mistakes. Unless it's mistakes of their predecessors, of course.

In fact less (5, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330946)

If the government suspected someone of plotting in a virtual world they could probably subpoena logs from the ISP, find who else was habitually on line at similar times and monitor future access.

Virtual worlds come about last in the list of options. If you were a terrorist and you wanted to communicates would you:
  1. Talk in a virtual world, where you could be monitored if suspected
  2. Talk in the real world in some random location
  3. Use a off prepaid mobiles, brought for cash
  4. Use heavily encrypted emails, where they would know who you were talking too but not what you said
  5. Post stenographic encrypted images on Flicr (images which hold a hidden coded message, not visible to normal users), where they could not tell what you said or who you sait it to. Possibility of finding out people who regularly checked images, though if it was good porn....
  6. Get a spam company to send a message to millions of people with stenographic encrypted messages or pre-arranged phrases. (other terrorists don't need to regualrly check images)
I am sure that most of you can think up some more "better than second life" means of covert communication.

Re:In fact less (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22331064)

By 2 you mean meet at the mosque?

Re:In fact less (4, Informative)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 6 years ago | (#22331080)

Post stenographic encrypted images on...

Yes, many stenographers tend to encrypt messages. Fortunately with the advent of email they're not quite as prominent in business circles.

I presume you really meant "steganographic".

Monitor this! (5, Insightful)

_merlin (160982) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330450)

The government can't monitor what I'm saying to my co-workers at this moment, either. Maybe terrorists will plot things in our work environment, too. They can't monitor what I say to my friends on the street. Better make going outside illegal. Who pays these people to say stupid stuff? Oh, I forgot - that's where taxes go. Maybe Ron Paul really is onto something with his talk about cutting unnecessary parts of the government (I'm Australian, so I can't vote for him).

Re:Monitor this! (4, Insightful)

mrxak (727974) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330470)

Well realistically, I'm sure terrorists do meet in person to plot. This article needs a big stamp labeled [Obvious].

Re:Monitor this! (5, Funny)

Ultra64 (318705) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330600)

I'm sure terrorists do meet in person to plot

How could you know that? Unless...


Re:Monitor this! (5, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330602)

This article needs a big stamp labeled [Obvious].

No, it needs a big stamp labeled [Government Out Of Control]

The "problem" is not that people can have unmonitored discussions in virtual worlds, the "problem" is unmonitored discussions. You know, like you might want to have in your living room with your sister's new husband, Khalid Al Automatic Terrorist Suspect. Or your friend, Sir Knight of the Holy Order of Pot Smokers. Or your wife, She who Blew You When You Were Underage. There is literally no difference between the idea that "they" have to monitor discussions in one place, as compared to "they" need to monitor discussions in another. The idea they are actually pushing is that unmonitored discussions are a threat. The issue at hand is specifically, do "they" need to monitor discussions at all, and the answer, both legally and in the sense of rational degrees of privacy, is a resounding no.

I refer you to the 4th amendment of the constitution:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated"

Some would say that there is no right to privacy in the constitution, but I say there it is, staring you in the face, as the underlying presumption that created the first phrase in the fourth amendment. Just ask, why would people have this right? It all descends from privacy, that social boundary that we all know better than to cross.

That bit about "papers" is the key; at the time, "papers" were what was used to communicate long distance, and there they are, right in the boilerplate that LIMITS the federal government's rights by trumping with the people's rights. This idea was rationally extended in the right to privacy for your mail, and again, in right to privacy with regard to telecommunications and cell calls and so forth. The idea that these people are pushing that packets are not the same as an envelope carrying your remarks in the degree of privacy deserved, and the reason for that privacy, is simply ridiculous.

If you put up with this, mark my words, you'll be asked to put up with monitoring gear in your home before too much longer.

Re:Monitor this! (1)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330664)

If you put up with this, mark my words, you'll be asked to put up with monitoring gear in your home before too much longer.
You, sir, have missed the point (albeit slightly).

{and I quote, paraphrased} If you put up with this, mark my words, you'll be asked to put up with monitoring gear in your head , to track your every thought, before too much longer.

And before you all start laughing, let me just say they would if they could.

Re:Monitor this! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22331178)

The official senate version of the US constitution is some 2700 pages. []

There's your problem.

The same concept that allows a cop to cap a serial killer (al la the ed gein type) is the same concept that enables that police officer to become a serial killer. I'm sure there are valid uses for getting everyone under an ID card scheme; I'm of the opinion allowing everyone to carry around firearms is a better idea considering it works so well in other countries.

Re:Monitor this! (4, Interesting)

arivanov (12034) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330684)

Are you sure that they cannot? I recall a brilliant joke on the subject from the days of KDS, KGB and Stazi: What is one bulgarian? A bandit. Two bulgarians? A gang Three bulgarians? A gang with an informer. As far as using virtual worlds and so on for terrorism plotting a plot nurtured in Sadville will remain a wankoff. I would be much more worried about a plot nurtured in a cafana with the morning coffee and a Hooka pipe.

Re:Monitor this! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22330994)

I also know a joke.

What is a Polack? A stupid polack.
What is two Polacks? Two stupid polacks.
What are three Polacks? Three stupid polacks.

HAha get it?

Re:Monitor this! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#22331128)

It's actually sad when jokes from a communist regime start working in our "democratic" countries. It shows one thing, if anything: Politicians and their backers are scared of us. Yes, us, their "people". The communism had two major enemies (another political jokes from that time): The capitalism, and the people living in communist countries. And we're about to get there, capitalism is also about to get two enemies: Terrorists and the people. The stunning part is that the whole security and surveillance system that is built, in either system, is allegedly against the "official" enemy, but actually against the people.

Slightly off topic but can't resist the joke (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 6 years ago | (#22331132)

The Czech version of this joke goes:

Why do Bulgarian policemen go around in threes? One who can read, one who can write, and one to keep a watch on the dangerous intellectuals.

Actually, that's probably bang on topic in terms of what it gives away about police attitudes. One British police chief constable was recently said to have expressed concerns about reducing the checks on police stop and search powers because he knew that there were police in his force who would abuse them.

Re:Monitor this! (1)

krotkruton (967718) | more than 6 years ago | (#22331008)

Another reason why constant monitoring doesn't work: Penn and Teller: Bullshit - Big Brother [] (about 5:30 into the video, but there's a lot more good stuff if you watch the full episode).

Re:Monitor this! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22331016)

Second Life records everything you say in open Chat and IMs, and the company retains that information for a considerable period of time, in case the Government wants to look at it (and for Linden Lab's unknown internal purposes). Anyone who thinks that their communications in Second Life are some kind of secret is pretty clueless.

(I forget how long it is, but at one point Linden Lab explained it. Three months comes to mind, but it might be longer. I imagine if some DHS agency asked them, they would retain it longer, or retrieve it from archival backup media.)

I think the record also includes your movements in the virtual world, and certain actions.

But since the government is also intercepting all Internet traffic at the ISP level, they already have access to your IMs and whatever on virtual worlds or otherwise. Having the virtual world providers filter it into a nice package is just a money saver.

As someone mentioned, Second Life is about the most cumbersome, expensive, slow, unreliable way to communicate that one could imagine. It's also useless as a simulation/training/planning platform. If there are any terrorists on Second Life, it's just so that they can have cybersex.

Re:Monitor this! (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 6 years ago | (#22331068)

The government obviously needs to place surveillance cameras and microphones in every single room of very single building, and on every street.

It would not only allow us to monitor terrorism, but also paedophiles, domestic violence, and virtually every crime.

After all, if you are not a terrorist (or paedophile) you have nothing to hide! Somebody think of the children!

Re:Monitor this! (1)

Shiina (1234864) | more than 6 years ago | (#22331096)

I s'pose the governments just won't be content til we live in a V for Vendetta crossed with George Orwell's 1984 Big Brother world. Only then, in that world, will I happily be able to go on Gaiaonline and go fishing whilst chatting away to other users. Until then, we shall have to live in fear of terrorists communicating in Neopets with their fluffy cartoon pets or on Habbo with little Lego people.

Terror Gnomes (5, Funny)

mrxak (727974) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330452)

I always knew those gnomes in the tram were up to something!

Good God, Think of the Public Parks! (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330458)

If I can't hear you, you must be a terrorist.

How crazy and stupid is this so called war on terror going to get before it's over? Can it please go the way of bell bottom pants?

whats wrong (5, Funny)

Kinobi (159344) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330464)

I don't see a problem with creating a virtual tower and airplane... Maybe we should have a virtual reality world where you can blow yourself up and be reborn in heaven. If it is addictive enough it may curb real life terrorism.

"trust us, the panopticon will keep you safe" (3, Insightful)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330474)

Our (the US) government and its intelligence agencies are getting a little out of hand.

A little out of hand? (1, Flamebait)

leftie (667677) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330704)

This is as paranoid and bizarre as the Moral Majority freak that spit on me and ranted "my demon worshiping would condemn me to hell" outside a Virginia game store in the early 80's because I played Dungeons and Dragons.

Re:"trust us, the panopticon will keep you safe" (5, Insightful)

rhizome (115711) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330816)

Our (the US) government and its intelligence agencies are getting a little out of hand.

Actually I think it's the reverse. Overreaching surveillance and torture tells me that the US intelligence agencies are way behind in their capabilities and skills, so they have to fall back on cruder methods. Some might say incompetent, but that tends to be taken as perjorative. I'm thinking more "developmentally disabled," because they may simply not be capable of researching good intelligence anymore.

See something suspicious? Report it! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22330484)

Troll talking to an elf?
Level 3 mage and level 57 paladin in the same party?
Drow walking around aboveground during the daytime?
Brown people who talk with an accent?

Report it! It could be terrorism!

they dress up like bears (5, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330496)

because the Government can't currently monitor all the communication and interaction, terrorists will plot and scheme in such environments.

If by "terrorists", you mean "furries" and "furry sympathizers", then I would have to agree with you.

So, basically... (5, Insightful)

ikarous (1230832) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330500)

These people were paid to say, "Hey, um, terrorists might use the global communications network to communicate with one another." Better tear it down. Glad our taxes are going to good use.

Re:So, basically... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#22331156)

Tear it down? Are you nuts? Our industry without email? No more online stores generating revenue abroad?

Most certainly not. But we will limit it to whatever our businesses need and cut down, outlaw or simply disable the rest.

A corollary to existing theory? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22330508)

...namely the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory [] ...

Posted anonymously, of course...

Re:A corollary to existing theory? (1)

mrxak (727974) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330534)

I was actually expecting this to be talking about virtual terrorism when I first saw the title. Stuff like (black-hat) hacking, comment vandalism, forum trolls.

Sponsored by COS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22330510)

Yet to see anonymous terrorists that are half as brutal as the weakest named terrorist groups. Hell not even sure if I they could ever be called terrorist, except in excite news on faux.

WTF (2, Funny)

ludomancer (921940) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330526)

Fact: Stupid articles like this breed terrorism.

No (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22330532)

and I will blow up anyone who says otherwise.

Submitted by an Anonymous Coward (1)

ozphx (1061292) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330536)

Clearly indicating that Slashdot is either a breeding ground for terrorists, or a hangout for government shills.

something awful goons/second life safari (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22330542)

I think the something awful goons, unconnected to second life safari, did create a place for temporary terrorism in virtual space.

On a positive note I am looking forward to a second life safari with bin laden walking around as a troll.

Anonymity helps terrorism because (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22330544)

terrorists are Cowards

Of Course It Does... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22330546)

Just like free-thinking and education breeds terrorism...

Be A Patriot! Don't Read!

In anything that is new... (1)

stox (131684) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330554)

and different, the government will be a afraid. To which I say, thank you. Change is what made this nation what it is, and I embrace it. I hate repeating the past. Change is what makes life worth living.

Q and A (5, Insightful)

Husgaard (858362) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330560)

Will terrorists will plot and scheme where the government cannot monitor them?

Yes, of course!

Will it help to let the government monitor everywhere?

Maybe a bit, if it is possible. But it would mean that we destroy the kind of society we are trying to defend against the terrorists.

Re:Q and A (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#22331170)

Even then it won't, simply failing in the part that is "everywhere". Everywhere is a lot to monitor, and most of all it is not a closed set. As soon as you would monitore "everywhere", some terrorist would create a "somewhere" where there's no surveillance.

You cannot monitor everything every time. Ask any parent who isn't in the delusion that they know everything about their kids. Or, easier, think back to your youth. Did your parents know everything about you all the time? And, hell, did they try?

Somebody's getting paid for writing this crap @WP (2, Interesting)

rant64 (1148751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330566)

Any more rediculous sensationalist statements? Sjeesj. I don't know about you people, but I'm not living out my life fearing the next, so-called terrorist, action.
Bye! Gotta get to work.

we should be afraid of anynymous (3, Funny)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330640)

No really, you want /b/ to take over the world?

Think of it, Memes filling every newspaper, kittehs running wild in the streets, and lets not even go into the bucket..

News related (0, Offtopic)

sykopomp (1133507) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330576)

This is an interesting news posting, specially considering what's been going on with the whole Internet Hate Machine vs. Scientology thing these past months. I don't think there's been enough thought into the implications of large, somewhat-cohesive online groups on RL. It's good that at least someone is paying attention.

To take a page from another forum... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22330580)

...Anonymous disagrees.

Being a Government breeds Terrorism (4, Insightful)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330584)

The simple fact that humans organize into Governments that think that they can with impunity kill other human beings in other parts of the world is what breeds terrorism. When you bomb people a fraction of those that survive, or their relatives, or descendants, may at their choice become fighters against those bombers or those who otherwise terrorized them. It's simple primitive brain response to being killed and all humans still have that primitive brain, it's known as our lizard brain. It's responsible for the fight, flight or freeze response.

So YES, any place that people gather, or communicate one on one, one on many or many on many will be a place where potential plans for evil deeds are carried out. The Pentagon is one such place for those with organized power centers while other places, real or virtual are places where those kinds of communications can occur.

Those in power are those that kill. They are often the ones that also need to be stopped along with the - so called - terrorists that they fight. They both carry out evil deeds including killing.

Huh? (1)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330648)

Would somebody please explain why the above post was modded down to Troll?



Re:Huh? (2, Funny)

ximenes (10) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330714)


Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22330732)

The post is telling an inconvenient truth. Let's hope metamoderators catch the moderator.

Re:Being a Government breeds Terrorism (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330824)

It's simple primitive brain response to being killed

I think the only response of a brain to being killed is "dying," don't you think?

all humans still have that primitive brain, it's known as our lizard brain. It's responsible for the fight, flight or freeze response.

This has nothing to do with terrorism. Terrorism requires planning, patience, and execution. A reptile can accomplish none of these things. "Getting pissed off" is something universal to most animals. But terrorism is a uniquely human trait.

Short story on a similar subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22330588)

Pimpf by Charlie Stross was about the a secret agency that monitored MMORPGs for suspicious and dangerous activities.

and why would... (4, Insightful)

Lordfly (590616) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330592)

And why would terrorists download a special client, usually made for graphics-intensive computers, and pay a monthly fee to hop in and "PM" Osama405_bigluv their nefarious plans? I thought terrorism's aims were generally low-budget and crass, not web 2.0.

Ever heard of IRC? Email? Smoke signals?

Just chatting in virtual worlds is too time consuming if you want to convey information quickly and easily. I should know, I work in them. :P Whenever there's a bunch of people trying to get a meeting done, it's done in Skype, or email, or IRC, or Basecamp.

Re:and why would... (1)

Xoknit (181837) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330856)

Thank god the US outlawed exporting cryptography, i mean what if the terrorists had crypto?!?!

Virtual Security (0, Flamebait)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330620)

Anonymity breeds terrorism. end of sentence. Argueing over wether communications, or behavior should be monitered in online gaming, should be a moot point to anyone who enjoys their freedom, danger is the price you pay for freedom, freedom is the price you pay for security. But, the money aspect of it is interesting, its perfectly designed for money laundering, and at speeds previously impossible, hundreds of digital transactions could occur carrying the original sum of money with say... an hour... unlike "real" money where it would probably take months for the same transactions. Is this a "problem"? Sure, but its basically the intrinsic nature of digital currency, its the price you pay for the ability to pay the price, the only way to stop that from happening is to revert back to a tangible currency, or... try and slow the process down with registrations, redundant security checks, "Life Is No Fun Anymore [Accept] [Decline]"

Re:Virtual Security (2, Interesting)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330686)

Anonymity breeds terrorism. end of sentence.
Oddly enough, last time I looked, your vote was anonymous.

Expect that to be severly curtailed real soon, too.

Re:Virtual Security (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330984)

If I had my way, my vote wouldnt be anonymous in anything requiring a vote...

I assume you mean 'vote' refering to candidates for government, why would I care if its anonymous or not? There is a reason why even /. uses "Coward" in addition to anonymous, I personally dont really care if you agree with my vote or not, its my vote, just like I dont really care about your vote, its your vote.

Its an expression of your opinion, ideal, morality, etc. and im fairly sure that if everyone could find out who voted for who, it might fix some of the voting "issues".

Even in less important votes (although possibly just as accurate) how many people vote for the 'Cowboy Neal' option on /.'s polls? How many people vote for the person they actually hate, "just for the fun of it" because you dont have to stand up for it?

Take a look at how many of the racist/sexist/flatout crude or obnoxious posters use the "Anonymous Coward" option...

Re:Virtual Security (3, Insightful)

pclminion (145572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330812)

Anonymity breeds terrorism. end of sentence.

s/anonymity/desperation and you have a valid argument. Anonymity is completely counter to all the goals of terrorism. You cannot effect political change, if you do not reveal yourself or your motivations. Anonymous terrorism is just plain old murder. Doing it in secret defeats the purpose.

It helps to be anonymous when you are in the planning stages, but it is pointless to remain anonymous after the fact.

Re:Virtual Security (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 6 years ago | (#22331048)

Well, I was sort of hoping that people would naturally include the emotional reason behind it, and not just that "Look Ma, No Name!" was cause for terrorism unto itself.

"You cannot effect political change, if you do not reveal yourself or your motivations."

Really? so, are you saying that the whole 9/11, Subway Bombings, random car bombings all come with a declaration of intention? and we are entirely certain what the purpose was? and most if not all of those events have effected political change.

Anonymity just doesnt 'lead' to a can't really follow "that guy", "That Guy, presented his State Of The Union" many people can say they know all of the names of the members of parliment/congress? for most people, they may aswell be anonymous.

And furthermore, why is it that people seem to think that "terrorism" is limited to explosives, and killing? there is also emotional terrorism, psychological terrorism, environmental terrorism, etc...

Anyways, this is all pretty far off topic, my point (originally) was that anonymity and terrorism, or "bad" behavior has quite often come hand in hand, and that the only real 'news-worthy' part of the story is the fact that the "virtual world" now envolves real money, and therefore real consequences...

I'm pretty sure that most MMOs record conversation (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330628)

I'm pretty sure that most MMOs record some conversation passing through their servers, if only to allow people to do a /report of the previous 20 lines of text should someone be spouting obscenities. In other MMOs, there isn't a direct /report command, but the GMs do have access to past chat logs, so when someone puts in a petition or ticket, they can go back and see what the person was writing about.

Most likely, true trained terrorists (not some guys wanting to stick a stink bomb in a high school lunchroom's garbage can) would have a communications channel a lot more secure (doesn't have to be encrypted, just hidden) than gabbing in a MMO, where its unknown to them what parts of a conversation are logged.

Let 'em (5, Insightful)

gambolt (1146363) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330632)

Nothing terrorists can do is a bigger threat to our freedom and way of life than nincompoops who think all communication should be government monitored.

GOP should make US citizens carry lightning rods. (1, Insightful)

leftie (667677) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330636)

The Republicans should force everyone in the US to carry around lightning rods everywhere they go first. Since people are more likely to be hit by lightning than they are to be a victim of terrorist attack, we need to spend that money on the threat from evil lightning bolts.

My Gawd, are the vast majority of the GOP the biggest bunch of sniveling cowards you have ever seen?


Can you imagine one of these yellow-streak-down-their-back right wingers ever loading all their possessions in a Conestoga Wagon and heading out west into the unknown on the Oregon Trail? What made so many Americans such cowards?

Re:GOP should make US citizens carry lightning rod (2, Insightful)

pclminion (145572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330802)

Carrying a lightning rod around will actually increase your chances of being struck.

Just so you know. I mean, I wouldn't want to see somebody get hurt.

What made so many Americans such cowards?

It has been a slow, degenerative process. The causes will probably all be obvious in the end, but that will be too late.

Naaa, not true (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330638)

Anomity and virtual worlds (a.k.a. the internet as I understand it) only breed this [] !

Farce on Terrorism (5, Insightful)

secondhand_Buddah (906643) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330660)

Terrorism is a phenomena that is internal to countries. Terrorists regard themselves as freedom fighters. terrorism occurs where people have been suppressed by a regime, and want their freedom back. They are not well armed, or have large numbers of forces at their disposal, so they rely on tactics to pressurise the population of a country to invoke change. Generally only small numbers of people are killed by terrorism, but the technique invokes fear, which in turn prompts for change.

What is happening in America is not terrorism. It bears none of the characteristic traits. It is something else. Terrorism is probably something that will emerge in America in the next few years as/if the government becomes more suppressive. People seeking their liberty back will unite and work together to return liberty to USA. The current legislation being put in place is a strategy to counter the ability of people to unite and rise up against a government.

If I was American or British right now, I would be very concerned.

Re:Farce on Terrorism (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330980)

If I was American or British right now, I would be very concerned.

Thanks, we already know about terrorism. We'll let you know if we notice anything new.

Re:Farce on Terrorism (3, Insightful)

secondhand_Buddah (906643) | more than 6 years ago | (#22331158)

Have you noticed that your society has transcended before your eyes into a surveillance society. Do you know that you can now be detained indefinitely without trial? Do you know that there are elements within the British government that want total surveillance on your life?

The thing is, the only terrorism you know was from the IRA, which is what I was describing. This new thing, labelled as terrorism is not. It is something else. As a British citizen you may remember that the IRA had clear objectives.

This current wave of violence is not terrorism. It is something else. It has been designed to coerce you as Joe Citizen, into agreeing with passing the laws that will enable a surveillance society. And it it working, as you can witness by the laws being passed. Since the turn of the century, the freedoms enjoyed by ordinary citizens in USA and Britain have been severely eroded.

Unfortunately this is just the beginning. there is however still time to stop it before it spirals out of control - before you get your first dictators. If you think it cant happen, ask the older Germans, they will tell you that it pretty much started in this way. Also ask the Jewish people how their freedoms were curtailed in Nazi Germany, and how it turned out for them. they ALLOWED it to happen to them because they were law obeying citizens of Germany at the time. they had faith that the balance of law and order would have been restored in Germany, but it was not. Wherever freedoms are being curtailed, it is in order to control people. Once the control begins, it is VERY DIFFICULT to undo the control.

Re:Farce on Terrorism - Nonsense! (0, Flamebait)

slashspot (1118575) | more than 6 years ago | (#22331100)

Almost everything you said is incorrect.
"Terrorism is a phenomena that is internal to countries" - makes no sense since much of terrorism is cross-border (India hit from Pakastan, etc).

"terrorism occurs where people have been suppressed by a regime" - nonsense - Terrorism today is 99.9% by people who have one particular religious/political ideology - they are Muslims that believe that Allah will reward them for their fight against the infidels.

"...and want their freedom back" Nonsense! It has nothing whatever to do with freedom - they want everyone to be the "slave of Allah" like themselves, or dead!

"They are not well armed" - ignorant! Millions are pouring into many Muslim "charities" that support the Jihad (a basic requirement of all Muslims), and Iran is sending sophisticated weapons to Iraq...

"or have large numbers of forces at their disposal" - also nonsense. These terrorists are not the underdogs you think they are.

"Generally only small numbers of people are killed by terrorism" - well just 10,500+ since 9/11... no big deal right. You won't care if they kill you then?

"Terrorism is probably something that will emerge in America in the next few years as/if the government becomes more suppressive" - now you show yourself to be a nut. Not one American citizen has been denied their rights, and the vast majority of Americans are happy being protected.

"If I was American or British right now, I would be very concerned." - is that a threat?

Re:Farce on Terrorism - Nonsense! (1, Interesting)

Builder (103701) | more than 6 years ago | (#22331142)

"Generally only small numbers of people are killed by terrorism" - well just 10,500+ since 9/11... no big deal right. You won't care if they kill you then?

10,500 people in 7 years is NOTHING. More people have died from heart attacks in that time. More people have died from car crashes in that time. Want to declare a war on those ?

As for not caring if they kill me, no, I wouldn't. I would rather be killed at the hands of a terrorist tomorrow than live in a world where we sacrifice our freedoms to keep us 'safe'.

I have two statements explicitly in my will... If I burn in on a jump, I do not want anyone to sue the jumpship operator, the rig / canopy company or anyone else. The second one is for release to the press should I die in a terrorism related incident - that states that I am happy to have lived in the environment I did, with the risks commensurate to that, and I wouldn't want to see laws changed, so don't do anything dumb "in my name".

Bre'r Rabbit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22330666)

Bre'r Rabbit--he said, "Boil me in oil if you like, but please don't throw me in that briar patch!"

Since when is Second Life "anonymous"? You pay for it with a credit card for crying out loud.

Re:Bre'r Rabbit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22331000)

If you're paying just to PLAY Second Life, YER DOIN' IT WRONG.

Are you serious? (4, Insightful)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330670)

Using Second Life and "virtual worlds" to formulate terrorist plans? Why? Don't telephones, email, and real world meetings (that's when you are actually in the same room with someone, or outside near them, look it up) all work for these people? I don't know much about plotting against governments, but if I want to plan to go out for dinner tomorrow night, I am not going to make sure I have a computer running Second Life, create an account, wait for my friends to login, then make plans online; much easier to call them on the phone, send an email, or drop by to see them. Silly. Out of all forms of communication, I'd have to rank Second Life, etc. as about the most cumbersome and least convenient.

Re:Are you serious? (1)

ZDRuX (1010435) | more than 6 years ago | (#22331014)

I agree 100% with you... unfortunately the government has no intention of listening in on your conversation in Second Life. This is done to spread fear, and the uncertain feeling that someone *MIGHT* be listening to your in Second Life (or on the phone, or in your emails, or in your letters, etc.. etc..) this creates a sense of uncertainty and some degree of fear, making sure nobody gets out of line, or even attempts at making a group of people to stage a protest, to share information (9/11 was an inside job, impeach bush, vote Ron Paul). It keeps everybody in check and always thinking there's somebody watching over your shoulder, making sure you don't "get out of line" without the government actually doing anything.

Next week they`ll release a statement saying they`ll be watching for people waving flags, so now nobody waves flags because god forbid someone thinks you're a terrorrist. Sooner or later, nobody has the guts to do anything... mission accomplished.

Second Life is terror-proof (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22330710)

I am confident any potential jihadists looking to plot attacks in Second Life will be thwarted by one or more of the following:

* equipment costs of $3000 computers to get better than 8 FPS
* server crashes
* griefers spawning a million hopping Super Marios in their zone
* penises and/or furries everywhere

Overrated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22330750)

Terrorism is overrated, like nationalism used to be at certain parts of the world.
They both rely on emotions, fears and perfectly exploitable by politicians to rule the public the easy way.
I wish W. Churchill was here.

We got to get into a fundamental discussion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22330764)

... what the role of the government ought to be. If we think the government should take care of us from cradle to grave, sure they do have to implement totalitarianist measures to ensure control over the population - just to carry out their responsibilities. Welcome to 1984.

Live free or die. Dr. Ron Paul for President.

They can't monitor me and my co-conspirators (2, Funny)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330778)

plotting dangerous megalomaniacal schemes around my kitchen table either.

Because they don't know I'm a terrorist.

Oh, Sh**t! What's that red dot?

It's a plot! (3, Funny)

dbIII (701233) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330790)

It's a plot for people in government agencies to sit around all day playing WoW and get paid for it!

Even sysadmins can't get away with that. The best we can do is sit around all day playing slashdot and get paid for it.

Right. (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330794)

Because everybody knows that terrorism didn't exist until the Internet boom. I mean obviously, 9/11 was caused by the Internet.

Yes, It Does (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22330796)

Let's blow up IARPA headquarters

That's fine with me as long as ... (1)

slashdotmsiriv (922939) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330800)

they stick to virtual attacks on virtual worlds, like blowing up things in Second Life

Terrorists never plan anything at home... (5, Insightful)

freezingweasel (1049610) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330804)

Of course if I'm a terrorist I'm going to get people in place all over the US, and openly discuss my plans AFTER everyone is in place, in front of countless online witnesses, any one of which might not want us to kill them as opposed to making the plans before we came over and NOT EVER MENTIONING THEM.

If the terrorists are really that incompetant, we don't need to stop them, because they're just going to mess their own plan up anyway.

So two possibilities remain:

1. This is a blatant move towards a police state, leaving people too afraid to speak their mind (ala China).

2. There's legitimate reason to fear a massive uprising of "terrorism" from AMERICANS themselves. This sort of thing doesn't just happen in a vacuum. If this is expected, it begs the question, what are those pushing this bill planning to do that's so horrible Americans would revolt in large numbers? This is not a fear of legitimate governments that AREN'T looking to do something horrible.

Someone might speculate that perhaps they aren't worried about ordinary citizens or terrorists, but that perhaps there's another secret group we don't know about (or the extent of) seeking to infiltrate the government. Darn those commies trying to sneak back in! If there was such a group, and they were well coordinated enough to make such an attempt, don't you think they'ed have their own encrypted communications, and possibly face to face IRL meetings that left no record?

One way or another, this doesn't pass the smell test.

Re:Terrorists never plan anything at home... (2, Funny)

RobertinXinyang (1001181) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330958)

I'd mod the parent up; but, that might land me on a "watch list."

soup /b/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22330806)

Didn't FOX News [] discover this like a year ago?

Fewer legal protections for MMO players (3, Interesting)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330820)

Unlike telephone communications or bank records, there are few, if any, regulations covering privacy in MMOs. If terrorists are clever enough to figure out using the drafts folder of a hotmail account for communicating, they're clever enough to figure out that Blizzard probably won't even ask for a subpoena, they'll just record the keystrokes of anyone the NSA asks them to.

And because they can't read my thoughts... (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330822)

I might be planning terrorism in my brain.

??? If they knew me, they would say "not bloody likely"... but of course they do not know me so... their suspicion is somehow justified???

These government assholes are the ones we should be worried about, not the frigging people in Everquest!

No solution. (1)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330852)

terrorists will plot and scheme in such environments.
aa... I think this sentence should end after "scheme". In other words, they plot and scheme, period. These environments in question, are just one of the many available ways to do it, and if they become unavailable, terrorists (which we are only told exist) will use something else.

Unless we can block absolutely all anonymous communication, we should simply assume they can anonymously communicate. There is no solution. So why not save the time and money and work on some other part of the problem?

/facepalm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22330902)

These totalitarian douchebags need to die in a tire fire and GTFO my country where Freedom > all (except those things listed in the constitution).

What breeds terrorism? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22330936)

If they want to know what breeds terrorism, I have some guidance for them:

  • Oil dollars: Terrorism isn't cheap. It takes huge amounts of surplus bucks to fund it. Guess who is providing all those surplus bucks?
  • Drug dollars: Terrorism isn't cheap. It takes huge amounts of surplus bucks to fund it. Guess what is the world's #2 opium producing country? Guess what policy we have that causes opium / heroin to sell for such absurd prices, given how cheap it is to produce it?
  • Weapons and training: Maybe us providing billions of dollars in weapons, plus our best guerrilla training methods to the mujahadein in Afghanistan wasn't without consequences to us?
  • Occupying their countries: You know, if some people with a totally alien form of government came over here to my country and told me I had to live their way with their form of government, and my government had to allow their government to have troops stationed in my country for the next 100 years, and these troops could do whatever they wanted with legal immunity from being tried in my government's courts, what would I do and what kind of label would this occupying government pin on me do you think? To put it more concretely, if some Muslims came over here and told me I had to live under Sharia, you can be sure I would not take that gently.
  • Killing lots of them: Maybe Abdul is a normal, well-adjusted, happy, secular guy leading a normal life, having a normal job, not involved in politics or religion or anything, until one day, for no reason at all, a missile or a bomb lands on his house, destroying it and killing his family members. What would be the psychological effect of this on Abdul? Perhaps grieving, withdrawal, depression. Perhaps also anger. Maybe enough anger to want to strap on a bomb vest, or hijack a plane, or shoot up a crowd of anyone he identifies with the guys who dropped the bomb on his family. Maybe Al Queda has some recruiters who understand this logic and make sure to go and talk to people like Abdul every time an American bomb hits some poor shmo's house and kills half his family?
  • Human rights abuses: There aren't that many prisoners being held without trial and abused (tortured or whatever) in secret detention centers by the US, but even if it's just a few hundred, each one of those is an abuse, and it's going to be reported over and over in the Arab press. Likewise, I think American troops in Iraq are well behaved by the standards of occupation troops historically, but every single humiliation, rape and murder they do commit (which is not very many, but some) is reported endlessly and makes people angrier and angrier. The amount of reporting and anger isn't necessarily linked to how rare these abuses actually are.

I don't work for the CIA, so what do I know. Maybe none of those things make any difference, and the real problem is WoW and Evercrack and anonymous coward postings on Slashdot. Yeah those must be it. Things like trillions of dollars flowing into economies run by religious fanatics who hate us, occupying their countries and killing them, those aren't even worthy of examination as causes.

Compelling evidence? (1)

pal3f (1094703) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330956)

From TFA:

One intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had no evidence of activity by terrorist cells or widespread organized crime in virtual worlds. There have been numerous instances of fraud, harassment and other virtual crimes.

The next sentence is the real kicker though:
Some computer users have used their avatars to destroy virtual buildings.

Dear God! Virtual buildings -- just destroyed in a puff of virtual smoke!! We have to put a stop to this madness! Send in the CIA/FBI/DHS!

Back in the day... (1)

Dr_Ish (639005) | more than 6 years ago | (#22330970)

Many years ago, word went out over the mailing lists and (then very junior) newsnet about how packets were being dipped and 'The Powers That Be' were recording/snooping/doing all that bad stuff. It turned out that a few people had been playing with the wonderful and useful tracert command (now less useful, due to finger command paranoia). They had noticed nodes which only seemed to have IP numbers, not addresses. They concluded this must be the NSA.

The point here is that none of this paranoia is especially new. Each time I hear it come round again, I enjoy having been on the 'net since before it was the 'net (any old BITNET refugees still out there?). Been there, seen it, got the t-shirt, dyed the t-shirt pink, ripped the arms off the t-shirt and then lost the t-shirt.

Back in the day, folks figured out a response: give the snoopers what they want. Many people (me included) put words like 'bomb' etc. into our .sig files, so that even mundane e-mails about boring crap would trigger the sensors and get recorded. I am certain that Uncle Sam really enjoyed my discussions with my room mate about laundry and coffee ("Take out your laundry you freak, and buy some coffee!").

So, these days there is all this new fangled interweb stuff [engage full fogey/old fart mode], including Second Life, IRC, blogs and god knows what else. If a few public spiritied citizens would send Uncle Sam some more rubbish, he might get bored again. That is assuming he was ever really that interested.

Of course, there are two caveats: First, in the initial instance I mention, there was probably only paranoia and smoke. Second, these days one has to be a little careful about what one says, just in case one gets 'disappeared' on a 'Cuban holiday'.

The thing to keep in mind is that a few buzz terms, 'terrorists', 'communication', in conjunction with a recent technology makes the whole thing no less plausible than it was back then. I'm sure that Osama's folks send their 'secret plans' in Excel files [remember, Calc [] is better] that are password protected and then encrypted in PGP anyhow. This can all be done with products available at Office Depot [] anyhow. So, Chill!

Just another step (1)

cloud1494 (1029806) | more than 6 years ago | (#22331012)

Just another step towards a nanny state. The more the government controls, the more we lose our rights. Thus the reason this story belongs in the "Your Rights Online" section...

Because of the convenient AC option (2, Funny)

floccinaucinihilipil (943063) | more than 6 years ago | (#22331056)

we also scheme heavily on slashdot.

Re:Because of the convenient AC option (1)

floccinaucinihilipil (943063) | more than 6 years ago | (#22331082)


Anonymous? (1)

Isotopian (942850) | more than 6 years ago | (#22331072)

All they would've had to do is go on /b/. Simple, easy way to find out that anonymity breeds retardation and child porn, not terrorism.

And? (1)

Moniker42 (1131485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22331086)

Tell me, what is the harm of some minor plotting and scheming? Groups and forces have always wanted to overthrow governments, the only point at which they become dangerous and the state should intervene is when they begin hiding barrels of gunpowder under Parliament. Check the basement at night, don't try to police the entire citizenry and restrict their liberties!

The entire story is an "IF X then Y might" (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 6 years ago | (#22331092)

IF virtual worlds become important (they are not yet) then they MIGHT become a breeding ground for terrorism. Second life is mentioned, which is a "popular" and often discussed virtual world.

I say "popular" because while a great number of people have downloaded, and far more have heard of it, the actual number of active "players" is rather low.

As you get older, you start to see more and more that everything old is new again. I seem to remember similar story about BBS systems. Remember when everyone had to have a homepage? Now everybody has to have a social website page. Blogs were all new despite the fact that they seemed a lot like those homepage that were suddenly old or for that matter mailing lists.

One of the things I find really odd about this article is that they seem to suggest that the virtual worlds themselves might be the target rather then just a place for meeting and discussing terrorism. Right... bit of a case of wishfull thinking I think. Second Life isn't big enough for anyone to give a shit about. Break its economy? Too late and who the fuck cares.

World of Warcraft would be a better target, wipe out all accounts and millions of teenage boys will cry out from their mothers basement. I still rather doubt wether the world at large will notice.

I can understand some of the reasoning behind it, but I think this is mostly one giant ego trip. Ooh the CIA took a look at us, we are the next battleground, aren't we important!

It is rather like those protestors who imagine that every action of them is watched by secret agents and that the goverment has a huge file on them, while in reality the goverment doesn't care in the least and that birdlike spy plane is in fact just a bird.

The anonimity? That works both ways, you don't know who I am, but I don't know who you are either. How do I know I am not talking to an agent or do they think terrorists are as stupid as those pedo's on to catch a predator?

Anonymous Coward says: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22331102)

No, Slashdot breeds terrorism. You can't find me!

Funny hypothesis... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#22331106)

I'm sure they're keeping terrorist recruiters or suspected terrorists under surveilance right now. So, do they actually have some evidence to collaborate this like for example terrorists being caught with WoW accounts, that have only low level characters to talk and not play since many of them aren't gamers? Or is this simply yet another "We can't find the terrorists, so they must be [somewhere else]"? I'd wager the latter, there are so many other easy ways to encode something and send over the Internet. I could XOR a bitstream and tools designed to pick up only one thing would miss it. The set of possible communication modes and lines on the Internet is infinite, which I think why directives like the EU data retention directive is a joke. Oh, you want to store to/from addresses of my email. Gee, then I won't sent email I'll use one of a million other ways.
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