Every now and again something of a recurring theme pops up in the metaverse, and whilst catching up at one of the well established, yet strangely ill-informed SL forums – (you know the one… It’s mostly people who hate SL or haven’t logged in since 2008, although that could describe most of the vocal majority with something to about SL!), there it was:
‘The NSA have infiltrated SL and are spying on our chat logs’
If, like me, you’re not a yank, feel free to substitute your own spy agency of choice… MI5, Mossad, KGB, KFC, MFI – any will do!
It’s one of those topics that those in the know, who don’t know that they’re not in the know, love to debate, all clambering aboard a band wagon, that rapidly becomes an unstoppable juggernaut of conspiracy theory and an unhealthy dollop of complete and utter claptrap.
This latest outpouring seems to have been triggered by Snowden’s assertion that the NSA have been monitoring what goes on in WoW and SL. In all honesty, logic dictates that some, if not all of the the above agencies are pretty likely to have some interest in any online collective where large numbers of people can communicate in relative anonymity. I’ve no doubt that the same applies to SL, and – shock, horror – that the Lindens are hand in glove with the authorities, ratting out the residents and selling our secrets to the highest bidder…. Or, alternatively, it could be termed that they have a legal obligation to report suspected subversive activity, (but it doesn’t sound as sinister when you put it like that).
Lets face it, we all know that somebody, somewhere is spying on us – whether it’s the CCTV cameras checking us out as we do our shopping; our employer checking we’re not emailing memes on company time; the dodgy guy in the raincoat staring at our boobs when we’re out jogging in the park, or the digital sniffer dogs checking our texts, phone calls and social media for key words, like bomb kit, president, sabotage and Allah. (They’re going into a frenzy right now over that last sentence!)
In reality though, DFS and all those other faceless government sponsored spy cartels known solely by initials, have better things to do than trawl through our chat logs, that’s if they even care. The yottabits of data that are churned out globally on a daily basis simply couldn’t be processed, analysed or interpreted quickly or accurately enough to be meaningful, even by supercomputers, unless some sort of filter is applied, and I’m pretty certain that there will be a rule embedded somewhere in that filter that says ‘for sanity’s sake, ignore those SL chat logs!’
I still have my chat logs going way back to my earliest days inworld and trust me, even a brief skim through them is enough to convince anyone that I’m barking mad, talk mostly gibberish and the only threat to national security I’m ever likely to pose will be completely accidental, and will probably occur as the result of dialing a wrong number, or pressing a button ‘just to see what happens’. Further perusal would reveal that the vast majority of people I interact with in SL are no different.
In fact, there are many parts of my chat logs that would defy any attempts to interpret at all, and would keep any psychiatrist foolish enough to try busy (and rich) for a very long time indeed. So, if GCHQ fancy their chances, best of luck to them!
Perhaps I do myself and my friends something of a disservice. We do, occasionally, indulge in serious, sensible and entirely rational conversation, but I’d hesitate to say that was the norm, and if I’m honest, I’m very glad that’s the case.
So, there you go – they probably are watching us, but I can’t imagine it’s in any great detail, unless of course you’re already under investigation anyway… In which case, I suggest you wear a false beard and dark glasses, and only ever speak in crossword clues!
As for me, I’ve no worries. But if I do suddenly and mysteriously disappear after this post… Open the sealed envelope you’ll find under your keyboard for your new instructions.
It may look to the untrained eye
I’m sitting on my arse all day
And I’m biding my time until I take you all on my Lords and Ladies
I will prevail, I cannot fail.
‘Cos I spy.
Pulp – I Spy