Middle-East Expert Responds to Second Life Terrorism Hysteria

jcole.jpgCounter terrorism measures in the US are becoming more invasive daily. At this moment, US intelligence is researching way to monitor players on MMOs such as World of Warcraft and Second Life in the name of fighting terrorism.

Juan Cole, author and professor of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan, has written an insightful article for Salon on how much of a threat terrorists could actually pose in a game like Second Life.

What’s the real game here?

…The notion that wandering around such an imaginary world with a computerized body is dangerous to anyone seems itself cartoonish and calls into question the public hand-wringing by security experts.

It’s long been clear that the Bush administration authorized illegal, warrantless wiretaps on the American public, and that major U.S. telecom companies often cooperated… Dick Cheney recently urged making this type of unchecked domestic surveillance permanent.

Not only does Cole find the idea of terrorists being able to use an online site to promote their agendas unlikely, he finds it impractical. He sites the closure of Second Life banks and server instability as major obstacles.

The institutional frameworks are to date so unreliable that terrorists likely could not count on a money-launderer…

The use of MMOs as terrorist training camps is also doubtful according to Cole.

If the July 7, 2005, bombers of the London Underground could so easily be recruited in a gym in Leeds, why go to all the trouble of creating an avatar?…

One [security] expert… darkly observed that one can find stockpiles of weapons in virtual worlds, without seeming to take note of the fact that those weapons are … cartoon weapons…

Even the Internet war-game sites… which include “Worlds of Warcraft” — would probably just make most terrorists overweight and addicted to the Internet…

Cole concludes that governmental monitoring of online sites is an unnecessary allocation of resources and more importantly unconstitutional.

The recent alarmism about terrorist activity in virtual worlds seems designed to prey on the fears of the Internet common among the Great Unwired…

Any monitoring by law enforcement of innocuous activity and communication in a virtual world, conducted broadly and without oversight, would be unconstitutional and could invade the privacy of millions of persons.

via GamePolitics

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6 Comments on Middle-East Expert Responds to Second Life Terrorism Hysteria


On February 27, 2008 at 8:06 pm

“Worlds” of Warcraft lol.


On February 27, 2008 at 9:20 pm

haha sucks to be playing online games.


On February 27, 2008 at 11:12 pm

“The Internet war-game sites”? Which include “Worlds of Warcraft”? This guy, and the other idiotic “experts” like him, are as out of touch with reality as the f*%king administration.

Dumb s.

Eric S Gregory

On February 28, 2008 at 11:04 am

Aren’t most of you “gamers” fat and loose? I mean I’m sure that when the apocalypse comes down and you’ve got access to loads of automatic weaponry, you’ll be blowing away the bad guys left and right. But for now, you’re pretty much fat, right?

Ron Whitaker

On February 28, 2008 at 7:37 pm

I have a hard time dealing with the sentiment that Mr. Cole voices. He obviously knows little about the online world he pretends to be such an expert on. I can easily see the usefulness of the online worlds to the logistical operations of these nefarious groups.

Just because Mr. Cole can’t see it doesn’t make it fact. This seems to be a recurring theme in his discourse on most all topics.


On February 28, 2008 at 11:21 pm

Ron, you’re just as stupid as him, just on the opposite side of the argument. Please, stuff a gun barrel in your mouth, and let it erase you forever.