Internet

Feds To Probe World of Warcraft in Search of Terrorists

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No, really.

Thanks to Andrea Hofer for the tip. 

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  1. Radley, check this out on the same page – Godaddy pulls Cop rating site:

    http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/03/godaddy-silence.html

  2. I’m playing a different on-line game, and things about terrorism or mock threats involving bombings, beheadings and other nasty stuff fly freely there. If the feds begin investigating MMOs, they’ll be quickly overwhelmed by the amount of false positives.

  3. Next, they’ll start “investigating” Second Life strip joints.

  4. If we fight them in a fake online world, then we won’t have to fight them in the real world, right? Works for me!

  5. Ha ha ha, have fun with CounterStrike you morons.

  6. holy shit dude

  7. Sort of the same topic

    http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article3532832.ece

    “It’s about creating a seamless web of all the data in your life.”

  8. Theoretically, since WoW has an in game email system, it could be a conduit for terrorist communications.

    The potential downside for terrorists is, the game is very addicting, so the terrorist wannbes may give up visions of jihad in exchange for getting geared and attuned for Karazhan runs.

  9. One day, to avoid the all knowing eyes of government, one will be required to exile themselves to a place without the technology.

    If I remember my biblical prophecy correctly, that is the fate of those who refuse the number of the beast.

  10. Makes me reminiscent of the old days when they played “Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?”

  11. The cultural and behavioral norms of virtual worlds and gaming are generally unstudied. Therefore, Reynard will seek to identify the emerging social, behavioral and cultural norms in virtual worlds and gaming environments. The project would then apply the lessons learned to determine the feasibility of automatically detecting suspicious behavior and actions in the virtual world.

    If it shows early promise, this small seedling effort may increase its scope to a full project.

    Some nerd just figured out how to get Uncle Sam to pay his Verizon bill and justify his 19 hour/day WoW habit. I salute you, unnamed nerd!

  12. Reminds me a Charles Stross book I just read – Halting State. In a near future independent Scotland, bad guys in China get the encryption codes to everything in the British Isles via script kiddies running around in a MMO. Much more complex plot than that, of course. A very good read.

  13. “Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?”

    Everywhere, if you’re trying to justify your budget.

  14. Nomination for thread winner:

    SugarFree | March 12, 2008, 1:15pm | #
    “Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?”

    Everywhere, if you’re trying to justify your budget.

    Only a nomination because it is still early…

  15. “Yeah, the investigation is going well… could you expense these computer upgrades and the 100 cases of Bawls for us to help further the investigation? We’ve got a tip on some smugglers in EVE Online, and we lack the processing power and the caffeine necessary to investigate.”

  16. God, I hate MMOs.

  17. I’ve never really seen the attraction either, but that is probably my old age acting up again.

  18. I am an oldster as well, so somebody help me out. These MMO ganmes are not reality, just a bunch of ones and zeros that people play with, right? Kinda like cowboys and indians in cyberspace?

    If so, I think we can probably save some WoT money here.

  19. Wait, so are they looking for real life terrorists, people who blow up marketplaces and buildings and things, or are they looking for virtual terrorists who, I don’t know, kill a lot of mages and elves?

  20. I’m sure the feds were smart enough to monitor yahoo and hotmail accounts, but they probably didn’t think to monitor in-game communications.

    As I alluded to earlier, it is possible to communicate to anyone around the world using WoW (and presumably any other MMORPG).

  21. Um the feds are going to be rather confused by everything, I think. Especially all the acronyms, shortenings, and straight-up making up of words. WMD… wailing on my Dranei.

    Also, seriously, if you’ve ever listened to a group of 13 year old boys, they do sound like terrorists.

  22. This really isn’t as funny as it sounds.

    The Reynard project will begin by profiling online gaming behavior, then potentially move on to its ultimate goal of “automatically detecting suspicious behavior and actions in the virtual world.”

    Its ultimate goal, in other words, is to have a protocol in place to intercept every communication taking place within a MMO and scan it for ‘suspicious’ behavior; the profiling is to compile a database of ordinary acronyms, phrases, etc, to cut down on the false positives. In order to do this, of course, the Feds would have to lean pretty heavily on Blizzard and the rest in order to get their taps into the game. Kinda like what they did with the telecom companies we’ve been hearing about, right? Total invasion of privacy, yeah, but I’m worried about the lag. As if Jita wasn’t bad enough already…

  23. “””As I alluded to earlier, it is possible to communicate to anyone around the world using WoW (and presumably any other MMORPG).”””

    Sure, they could meet up in the game and use tells to communicate.

  24. ithaqua, it’s not just video games. Check out the story I linked to at 12:51 pm. The government want’s to do that with all web content. My favorite quote from the article, “It’s about creating a seamless web of all the data in your life.” That pretty much sums it up. Also I saw the PC table on Wired TV (I think), and the idea is to have the ability to recreate something that happened during a given time range. On the show they used the building of a nuke facility in Iran. They hit play and you could watch it being built. It was time lapsed, but amazing. The guy also showed all aircraft over the U.S. during a certain time period. He could click on an airplane and it’s transponder info would pop up.

    I can see the day when they apply that to crime and law enforcement. When a crime happens they will have the ability to know who was in the area. They can do that to some degree with cell phones now. No more canvassing for witnessess, the system will print out who was there via their cell phone. The cops can quickly interview possible witnesses.

    Your information is becoming the governments buisness. How much is too much? I’m curious at to what questions will be on the 2010 census.

  25. I should note that my linked article does say that the government is promoting the semantic web, but it would be an amazing domestic intelligence tool.

  26. Blizzard should ban the Fed mod.

  27. It seeks to access disparate databases to find patterns of known bad behavior. The program plans to work with domestic law enforcement and Homeland Security.

    Isn’t this the very thing that got Democratic governor Eliot Spitzer busted? Hmm, now it doesn’t seem so bad.

  28. I should note that my linked article does say that the government is promoting the semantic web, but it would be an amazing disgusting domestic intelligence tool.

  29. I am an oldster as well, so somebody help me out. These MMO ganmes are not reality, just a bunch of ones and zeros that people play with, right? Kinda like cowboys and indians in cyberspace?

    It is a network that allows anonymous covert communications.

    The problem of course is that they will be running sorting software to look for strange behavior and communications over this network…considering the average player of these games and the intent of the actual game i have my doubts how effective any kind of sorting software in finding anything that does not come out as mud.

  30. I’m curious as to what questions will be on the 2010 census.

    I’m afraid that by 2020 they won’t need to conduct a census.

  31. I’m afraid that by 2020 they won’t need to conduct a census.

    Thank you statistical sampling.

  32. Oh, for what it’s worth, I’m answering the same questions I answered on the last census. How many peeps be livin’ in the heezy?

    Rest of the questionnaire was left blank.

    Then I went out and smoked within 20′ of a building entrance, and consumed trans-fats, and purchased, from another person, a small bag of skittles.

    REVOLUTION!!!

  33. With a screenshot from the /first/ UT? Srsly?

  34. If only they could read the stuff I delete before hitting the submit button…

  35. OK guys, I initially thought this was utterly stupid too, but my husband heard an NPR news piece where they interviewed one of the guys in the project. After the explanation, it makes more sense… unfortunately the media has not been able to explain it correctly.

    Here is what is happening:

    The government is not looking for terrorists in WoW. However, they don’t know what behavior in MMOs like WoW is like. But if you think about, things like instanced dungeons… where you take a 5-man team of each person playing distinct roles, where they have to practice working together to fulfill goals… is very similar to terrorist cells. So they are wanting to study the behavior so they can develop a baseline.

    They think that real terrorists would never use real MMOs because it’s too easily infiltrated; they will probably develop their own private MMO-style games where they could use a virtual setting to plan movements and actions. If they could do this and practice it virtually, then it will be much easier to do it in real life.

    So again, they are NOT looking for terrorists in WoW. They are developing a baseline of EXPECTED behavior in the game so they can learn what it’s like.

  36. where you take a 5-man team of each person playing distinct roles, where they have to practice working together to fulfill goals… is very similar to terrorist cells.

    A terroirst cell or an operating table…in fact come to think about it this resembles just about any activity involving more then one person.

    We all are potential terrorists!!!

  37. I can only hope that terrorists are using WoW. Hard to build bombs when you’re playing 15 hours a day trying to make level 80.

  38. It took me way too long, but I finally figured this out.

    The headlines should read: “Government Nerds Figure Out How Not to Get Fired for Playing WoW at Work, Get Paid For It Too!”

    That, and only that, lies behind this plan.

  39. The Feds can try to take down my L70 Orc Warlock, but I wouldn’t count on them succeeding. And I’m not even raid-worthy.

    Felguard FTW.

  40. The great thing about WoW is there is enough demand for in-game stuff to support a market for it. My account would probably command around $600 on its own and I have around another $120 of gold in my bank, which is more than I’ve paid in user fees and to buy the software, although my profit per hour if I were to liquidate my account is around $0.15/hr.

  41. I wonder if the DA in Texas who got caught making a pimped out gaming rig on the government dime can get in on this. Link’s in my name.

  42. zOMG I’m currently planning to plant a dirty bomb in Shattrath City to show the imperialist Draenei that we orcs will not be subjugated!

    Hope the feds don’t catch on.

    lol huntard ftw

  43. Why don’t you leave us alone and go catch Osama, assholes. What the fuck do we pay you for?

  44. Here in Australia the spies only use classified reports for their info…most agencies don’t have access to the internet at their desks, they have to go outside their own departments to an ‘internet room’ to watch chat rooms…

  45. I applaud the federal official who pulled this off. I wonder if they’re hiring. I’ll work 14 hours a day and make sure that SSC, TK, and BT are free of any terrorist threat.

  46. “”I should note that my linked article does say that the government is promoting the semantic web, but it would be an disgusting domestic intelligence tool.””

    I was speaking from the DHS/LEOs point of view. It would be an amazing tool for them. The ability to recreate a crime using different available camera angles, sensor data, and an automatic list of those around the crime. I’ll bet dimes on dollars it is the future of law enforcement.

    From the citizens point of view, I want to believe that we would think it’s disgusting, but the current frame of mind is the more security the better. Far too many people are willing to give up freedom or think that surveillance has nothing to do with freedom.

  47. Might want to hold off on building any goblin death rays or sapper charges until this blows over.

  48. World of Warcraft players breathed a collective sigh of relief when it was discovered they were looking for terrorists instead of losers who couldn’t get laid in a whorehouse with a wad of 100s.

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