Following news that the American government is to start spying on MMO players, just in case they’re insane bombers, an author and professor of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan, Juan Cole, has added a smattering of common sense to the notion, saying that games like World of Warcraft are unlikley to harbour terrorist activity.
“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?” he asked. 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.”
American security forces in stupid shock. There’s more, though. Hunting for terrorists in MMOs is not only ridiculous, said Cole: it’s also illegal.
“The recent alarmism about terrorist activity in virtual worlds seems designed to prey on the fears of the Internet common among the Great Unwired,” he said. “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.”
Big thumbs up from us, America. Go those nonsensical, unconstitutional security initiatives.