Search This Blog

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

NSA's Failure to Monitor Minecraft Leads to Inevitable International Digital Terrorism

A while ago, I blogged about some classified documents released by Snowden that revealed that agents with the National Security Agency (NSA) had infiltrated World of Warcraft and Second Life. The agents set up characters and interacted with other users in an effort to uncover terrorism plots.

While the agents did not find any criminal activity, one could (perhaps sarcastically) argue that users are probably less likely to engage in virtual terrorism in World of Warcraft. While entire virtual cities have been destroyed in the past, I am aware of no similar destruction since news broke about the NSA's surveillance.

But in places where the NSA has not announced a presence, virtual terrorism remains. The BBC reports:

A virtual replica of Denmark created to help educate children has been disrupted by "cyber vandals". 
Small portions of it were blown up, despite a ban by its creators, the Danish Geodata Agency (DGA), on the use of "dynamite". 
Large US flags were erected at the starting area, as well as red, white and blue "America" signs. 
. . . 
Buildings were destroyed using virtual dynamite - the use of which had been banned on the Danish server - after users discovered it could be detonated when hidden in mining carts.

It is unclear at this early stage whether this incident will affect international relations. Thanks to the brave efforts of Minecraft users, the damage is being repaired and war will hopefully be avoided:

"It was the players who cleaned up the damage, replacing it with green grass and flowers the following morning," said [Chris] Hammeken, [chief press officer at the Danish Geodata Agency].
Privacy advocates may scoff at the NSA's surveillance of the digital worlds of Minecraft and World of Warcraft, but this incident reveals that in the absence of government surveillance, meticulously constructed buildings and landscapes may be wantonly destroyed. If that doesn't justify the forfeiture of online privacy, I'm not sure what does.

No comments:

Post a Comment