Well, Second Lifers, it seems we have infiltrators to our world. According to an article by James Ball in The Guardian (in my opinion Britain`s best newspaper) on Monday ( 9th December), the National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK equivalent Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) have both, for many years, been concerned about virtual worlds including our very own Second Life. The article states that, according to secret documents leaked this year, “real-life agents have been deployed into virtual realms, from those Orc hordes in World of Warcraft to the human avatars of Second Life.” James also writes that ” there were attempts, too, to recruit potential informants from the games’ tech-friendly users.”
The document, which was obtained by The Guardian and being published this week, was called “Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments”, and was written in 2008. It feared that the unmonitored communications and friends lists in- world could be used for recruitment to terrorist groups, and the passing of information within them. ” A spokesman for GCHQ said the agency did not “confirm or deny” the revelations “, according to the article. Even as early as 2007 an invitation to an internal briefing at the NSA mentioned terrorists in virtual worlds, and stated that “they are suspected of using them to communicate secretly and to transfer funds”, writes James.
In the following year or so things stepped up a gear and “the FBI, CIA, and the Defense Humint Service were all running human intelligence operations – undercover agents – within Second Life”, according to the article. In 2009 the NSA spoke again in a memo about the currency in SL, saying that it would “almost certainly be used as a venue for terrorist laundering”. James also wrote that in the same memo they stated that Second Life would ” with certainty, be used for terrorist propaganda and recruitment”, however he added ” the documents contain no indication that the surveillance ever foiled any terrorist plots, nor is there any clear evidence that terror groups were using the virtual communities to communicate as the intelligence agencies predicted”.
So, tell me please, is it just me that thinks the world`s gone mad, and that the agents were just using this as an excuse to come and play in world instead of getting on with their real jobs? Note: when I suddenly stop blogging and disappear you`ll know who`s got me!
But, it seems we must be vigilant in our sims, and look out for shady looking folk – perhaps standing in corners making comments like “It`s ice cold in Alex”. I know who we need – James Bond, 007, licensed to kill. He`ll help keep the London Sims safe. There`s certainly enough sexy potential Bond girls around. Yay- Second Life Bond film – it could make a million dollars! Oh no, now I`ve mentioned it to you lot someone will steal my good idea-lol. Remember you heard it here first!
Seriously, though, the London Sims is a friendly place to be, and offers an escape from the worries of the real world for a few hours. How many of us can say we don`t want to do that every once in a while. And, chill out secret agency guys -it`s supposed to be fun!!
(All quotes from James Ball`s article in the Guardian on December 9th 2013. Thanks James – it was very interesting, if a bit worrying!)
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