Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Lurking Everywhere

Trey Smith

Online gaming is big business, attracting tens of millions of users worldwide who inhabit their digital worlds as make-believe characters, living and competing with the avatars of other players. What the intelligence agencies feared, however, was that among these clans of elves and goblins, terrorists were lurking.

The NSA document, written in 2008 and titled Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments, stressed the risk of leaving games communities under-monitored, describing them as a "target-rich communications network" where intelligence targets could "hide in plain sight".

Games, the analyst wrote, "are an opportunity!". According to the briefing notes, so many different US intelligence agents were conducting operations inside games that a "deconfliction" group was required to ensure they weren't spying on, or interfering with, each other. (emphasis mine)
~ from Xbox Live Among Game Services Targeted by US and UK Spy Agencies by James Ball ~
Why stop with gamers? Chances are there are "terrorists" lurking at the Chamber of Commerce, local PTA or Friends of the Library!

You see, this is what happens when people or agencies become supremely paranoid. You see enemies at every turn. No activity is innocent anymore. You figure that almost anybody is "up to something."

Might there be a bona fide terrorist who is an online gamer? Certainly...but you shouldn't violate the rights of scores of innocent folks just to catch maybe one or two bad apples. There are far more efficient methods for this kind of stuff. As has been pointed out by many, too much data is as dangerous as too little. How can the NSA find specific terrorists within all this data? It would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack 12 miles high!


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