Business Intelligence

The Feds are data mining World of Warcraft -- surely, you can't be serious?


The blogosphere is abuzz with recent revelation that the United States Federal Government is spending our tax dollars to develop software that will detect violent extremists infiltrating World of Warcraft and other massive multiplayer games. That's right, that undead priest that just healed you could be a Fed.

A blog on Wired by Ryan Singel broke the story on February 22, 2008, (U.S. Spies Want to Find Terrorists in World of Warcraft) and it has been repeated around the blogosphere ever since. I first saw it on TechRepublic's sister Web site, Gamespot. It is called the Reynard Project.

Now, heaven knows, the U.S. Federal Government is no slouch when it comes to wasting tax dollars, but when I first saw this I took it to be a hoax. But it is not a hoax -- although the government should quickly claim it is to save face.

Here is the pertinent excerpt from the data-mining report from the Director of National Intelligence:

  • 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.

Now, come on -- this can't be real can it?

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

138 comments
ShadowViperXXXX
ShadowViperXXXX

Guys! Didn't you know the terrorist have infiltrated our IMAGINATION!

christopheredwards
christopheredwards

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okeeone
okeeone

This is a poorly thought out article. The Fed justification doesn't say anything about terrorism and it doesn't have a budget for people to sit around and just play WoW to spy on other players for suspicious activity. Studying population dynamics, group thought, crisis response, etc in online communities has become a very fruitful field of study in recent years. Ever listen to NPR? They feature scientists learning stuff about human behavior from online communities (including WoW, this isn't new) all the time. It's way cheaper and more efficient to use something set up already than organizing large population studies de novo.

Mr L
Mr L

"Ok, so, first we'll nuke anyone in a approach vector...we're going to be spotted but so what, if we die we die." "Once the attention is focused on the nukers, we'll bring a force in from the south and over the back walls to go in and try to assassinate the prince. He'll be guarded, but if a bunch of us have to die to get someone to him, it's ok...we'll be resurrected later." "Nuke 'em, nuke 'em!" etc. Someone tell me how an automated system is going to sort out routine gaming language, like the above, from "hidden" conversations? Oh wait, never mind, we'll just make everyone a suspect, track back their IPs, and begin court-bypassed surveillance. In fact, since the person you are chatting with in-game may well be outside the country, I think Dubbya considers the whole thing fair game anyway.

WoW > Work
WoW > Work

The only data the government might get from WoW are 2 year old Chuck Norris quotes and 10 year olds arguing over whether Ret Pallies are stupid or not. As for me, I'm more worried over the government trying to tax my WoW gold. I guess I need to open an off-Azeroth bank account! =P

chaneys
chaneys

Govt: You are on the way to destruction. Gamer: What you say !! Govt: You have no chance to survive make your time. Govt: Ha Ha Ha Ha ....

Shadetree Engineer
Shadetree Engineer

Okay, so is the Fed able to compare the amount of time a person spends actually playing the game, as opposed to just sending private messages all the time? I'm curious if the Fed has been given a higher level of access than the common citizen. The only way they could effectively police the WoW environment using a public level access would require some form of artificial intelligence to run multiple synthetic agents. Kind've like in Matrix. I would bet that they are too cheap to do it this way, though it would be a lot cooler to always have some random encounter where your opponent keeps calling you by your real name! But then that might mean that real agents are seconds away from breaking down your door because they think you are 'that guy'..... So, is Xbox Live gettin' pwnd too?

rentauri
rentauri

"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." Isn't that more of a case study to be conducted to chart those areas instead of an attempt to Data Mine the next terrorist cell playing on-line games? "If it shows early promise, this small seedling effort may increase its scope to a full project." So are we talking about the early promise of charting the said "emerging social, behavioral and cultural norms" or the promise of mining WoW for the terrorist? What made the Feds think this was worth the budget? Did they raid a terrorist cell (or find information) and they where using WoW to communicate or was this something they decided would be a good idea. Seems like this project is two things, first to establish the baseline on-line behavior of the virtual world, something that seems like should take a long time. Second would be Data Mine for abnormal behavior (or flat out 'terrorist-like' behavior). In which case this looks like a project that would be sucking up resources with little or no reward.

zoobecca
zoobecca

I knew that all those plat farmers must be funding something malicious. They are raising money for their terrorist buddies.

GSG
GSG

This is the most asinine, ridiculous thing that I've ever seen. I don't play online, but I have a couple of friends who do. They are the most nice people you could ever meet, when they aren't working or playing WOW, they are volunteering. They don't have a violent bone in their bodies, until... As soon as they are on WOW, their characters are the most violent "people". This is just an excuse for a bunch of slackers to play and get paid for it.

surferjmb7
surferjmb7

i think they a looking for recruits for the government

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

I wouldn't be surprised though. VR makes a nice place to set up to have a conversation with various people. I know of many instances where family members scattered around the country/world will play together and hold conversations with each other. No reason that terrorist cells couldn't do the same. The real trick is getting the gaming companies to divulge their player's personal account information where they get mailings, billed, etc. so they can match that with the avatars in game.

Altotus
Altotus

Now if you kill something in a game it will come back on you when you in court you potential murderers, why I wouldn't be surprised if legislation on thought crime is in the works. No more terror from thinking about what those evil gamers are doing online! WAAAAAAA HA!

omnknt232006
omnknt232006

Well, where did you think Cheney was when they told the American public he was in a secure location? I heard he is a 48 Undead Warlock on Firetree.

Tig2
Tig2

You know I love ya, man. But where is the option that says "Total Horsie Poo?" This is just so completely ridiculous that I can't put words to it. Will the gov EVER spend my money in a way that I can support?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

What are the job qualifications? Does it come with benefits and a Alienware laptop? Is a security clearance required? (Got one!) How can I get paid to game all day? You can tell the players that are feds; they're the ones that suck.

Jaqui
Jaqui

after all, gamers are ALL terrorists. to bad the government took so long to realise this.

jdclyde
jdclyde

after our media was stupid/traitorous to tell how we were monitoring cell signals in Afghanistan, of course a new outlet would be taken up. Of course people continually putting out a notification of everytime we do find a way to monitor their communications makes you wonder who is helping who out? Who would benefit from notifying terrorists that they are being monitored? If true, this discussion would fall under that same category.

JCitizen
JCitizen

other than that objective. Coded communication is probably their goal in this exercise. A person wouldn't have to be a cryptographer to come up with a simple communication method without anyone really knowing it doesn't pertain to the gaming.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

THat was my point in all my replies...you said it in so many less words!

TheGooch1
TheGooch1

Yes, it is very strange when the Orc that you are wailing on suddenly turns into an FBI agent with a black suite and sunglasses. In less than 3 secs you are dead even though you weren't playing PVP. What really takes the cake is when the same agent ( look-a-like from the game ) breaks your door down and loudly says "you are under arrest" and then whispers in your ear "pwned you noob!"

TheGooch1
TheGooch1

Its called paranoia. All of the sudden, terrorists are everywhere and we need to spend tons of money to find them, especially the ones playing Warcraft, as they are particularly dangerous. Another threat comes from the online chess games, where terrorists and playing out their attacks by checkmating their opponents. Here is a screen capture of a conversation the FBI caught on playchessonline.com: "queen takes rook, you're turn." "Um, I can't move without losing my king" "Checkmate!" "You cheated, you dang terrorist"

jdclyde
jdclyde

once the feds could show suspicious activity, a court order would be easy to get.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

It's not limited to just that...all kinds of illegal activities can be carried out in that manner. Back in college I had an industrious friend who needed money to stay in school. His parents were dirt poor and he didn't like hard work, he always said it would get you nowhere just like his parents. He had a very successful little business selling marijuana and prescription meds all over campass using irc chats as his advertising method. Got him through school (rather comfortably) and now he owns a construction business...go figure. I'm not justifying his actions, I'm just saying the feds aren't just looking for terrorists. They are gathering all possible forms and sources of information, which is what intelligence agencies are supposed to do.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

but from what I understand, they have teddy bears and nuckleer bombs on them. I would assume they were from Wal-Mart, with the Govt discount, so they only cost tax payers about $20,000. $24.95 for the drapes and the rest in administrative overhead.

dawgit
dawgit

I love it. Another good sugestion for a TR Button. "Spam" is too old hat. -d

Stangg
Stangg

...move to china, as long as your not worried about salary expectations, benefits or working conditions.

Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

I killed Dagoth Ur in the province of Morrowind, and I'd do it again. :D

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

anyone thought cell signals WERE NOT being monitored.... WTF its broadcast... ohh, its encrypted? Yeah, right, by a chip that has to pass approval of an organized "standards" board to protect peoples privacy from "reasonable" risk, while allowing governments full access.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Intelligence, from a security standpoint is lots and lots of information gathered from many sources put together to find out the larger picture. If the government DOESN'T monitor many different sources they could miss something. Allthough I have my doubts about this particular instance, I feel better knowing they are willing to explore many different intelligence sources...not just "i'm the next school shooter.com" or "i want to blow up the us.com". I think it's kind of interesting that we as people either criticize the government for going to far or not far enough. I maintain the point that I don't mind being monitored, as I am doing nothing wrong. If they put up google cam in my bedroom, they may have gone too far. But again, I could care less as I'm doing nothing wrong...

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

The article stems from a publicly available government report.

Jaqui
Jaqui

Of course they are. that has been the case since vietnam, when the media FORCED the public to see what war is and has [b]always[/b] been about. you know, traitors get a manadtory death penalty, to be executed within 1 hour of sentencing, their entire estate seized to help pay off national debt is the perfect way to deal with them. kill them all, the gods will know their own. :D edit: typo

Tig2
Tig2

I can make better curtains using old bedsheets. The White House needs a new decorator!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Surely you aren't implying I'd have to move to get this job because the U.S. gubermint has outsourced the WoW monitoring to our Communist friends, are you?

rentauri
rentauri

'be careful that gamer is looking are way'

jdclyde
jdclyde

we WERE getting a lot of intelligence from intercepted cell signals in Afghanistan. When that kind of information shows up on the front pages, it should be espionage charges.

Mr L
Mr L

A government's claim that "If you are doing nothing wrong, why should you care if we XXXXXXX" has been used before, famously. I find it particularly interesting that you only think they "may" have gone too far if they install cameras in your home. I maintain that without probable cause and a warrant it's my right to tell the government that my private life is none of their business. Yes, Surfer, I'm one of those liberal wingnuts who believes that the constitution is more than just an inconvenient piece of paper and that the 4th amendment to it is not toilet paper either. (If you want to enter into a debate as to whether the 4th applies to the internet and our communications there...or anything else, let's take it to a more focused topic, I'll be happy to trade you links and case law citations all day on the subject.)

jdclyde
jdclyde

The worse things are, the better it is for the political party that is not in power. That is the single reason the current Democrats have done everything they can to undermine all war efforts EXCEPT for refuse to fund it. They will put as negative a spin on everything from the war to the economy. Yeah, we need to have Baracks Socialized healthcare or Rodham-Clintons Communized healthcare. Sure, we can't AFFORD it, and the government should not be in the business of healthcare in the first place and has NO LEGAL AUTHORITY, but it is the hot button topic for people that don't work for a living or are underemployed. [i]( Democrat voters )

jdclyde
jdclyde

[i]"which was mandated by Congress following earlier concerns over data-mining programs -- also mentions several other data-mining initiatives."[/i] Yeah, a congress that has also been doing anything it can to gain political points, at the cost of US citizens and soldiers. What, Mark, do YOU care about a program that monitors WoW, as long as it doesn't create lag? Do YOU see them keeping track of your frag count a threat to you in ANY way?

jdclyde
jdclyde

they would just be replaced by the next crop of cockroaches. Showing what war really is and what it is about is fair game. Giving away locations and operations is not. The last problem for what passes for a "journalist" these daze is they don't HAVE a god that can sort them, unless money is a god of sorts? :D

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

"But if parents don't want their kids playing Warcraft or any other game, simply DON'T LET THEM." Whoe, HUGE statement! My son is 5 and I am VERY picky over what he can and can't watch. Half this crap that people let their kids watch is unreal. I don't even watch movies that could be questionable when heard in other rooms. That's right, I will not let myself watch R movies until after his bedtime. Some people have criticized that. But you know what? My kid is one of the best behaved in his pre-school class. He's also well ahead of the curve when he's tested. Sure, his intelligence has something to do with it, but I am a firm beleiver that dicipline has far more to do with it. You can always spot the kids that mom and dad don't spend quality time with, monitor what they see on tv/games or dicipline effectively. The majority of the time it's the parent who needs to grow up and be a man/woman. There are far too many spoiled brats out there that grew up to become irresponsible adults. Some were poor and their parents didn't care, others were rich and their parents spoiled them. Regardless of your income, you can always give your child the attention and dicipline they desperately need to become responsible adults.

CavalierX
CavalierX

...from the time of video arcades in the 80's. Bleeding hearts have used that "games are too violent" and "must teach social responsibility" line to ruin a lot of things, and it looks as though they'll keep trying. Remember Ms. Pac-Man, anyone? Note that one can always spot the PC Police because they always drag children into it, penalising adults because we have to "think about the children". But if parents don't want their kids playing Warcraft or any other game, simply DON'T LET THEM. Whoa... parental responsibility, now there's a novel concept. I just wish people would stop trying to use the power of government as a Super-Nanny, treating adults like children because parents are irresponsible.

Jaqui
Jaqui

it's the fact that kids are getting exposed to graphic violence in the games, with no consequences, it's teaching them that "it is okay to run aoround killing people, blowing tings up, stealing cars, get into high speed chases with police..." Until the games teach solcial responsability to those playing, they are purely a training tool for terrorists. [ note: Ultima Online does teach social responsability, to some extent, so it can be done in a game ]

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

If you've ever seen a large group of gamers after an all night lan party, they are kinda scary looking. All that caffeine and junkfood causing their eyes to bug out of their pale faces... I've seen some crowds that looked worse than the guy leaving the strip club dog drunk at 7 am.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Why should we even bother with security. If we do, somebody somewhere is going to know more than you which will grant them absolute power. Why doesn't the government just release all information at their disposal and let the citizens decide the best course of action? That would be so much better. Why bother with "Classified" security measures and such. "Because relying on the party in power to determine what is or isn't a threat to the United States is, to use the old cliche, like trusting a fox to watch the henhouse" By that logic, why give the President authority to do anything? If we can't trust the party in power now who can we trust if the party shifts post election? They'll be corrupt, as well. Just a new fox in the hen house.

Mr L
Mr L

at the same time? I notice you didn't answer the question, and simply engaged ad hominem. Unsurprising, actually.

jdclyde
jdclyde

I clearly just got done talking about intercepting the transmissions in combat situations. I also was JUST talking about how it was irresponsible and should also be illegal to have reported where Prince Harry was stationed, intentionally putting him and his outfit in danger because he is a high priority target. Read the posts and comment on what is actually there if your looking to do anything other than be a liberal weenie troll.

jdclyde
jdclyde

Take something rational and try to make it appear irrational because they are unable to discuss on the merits. You get used to it after a while... unfortunately.

SFalchionRomantic
SFalchionRomantic

...whose threat-perception are we trusting here? Because relying on the party in power to determine what is or isn't a threat to the United States is, to use the old cliche, like trusting a fox to watch the henhouse. As they say, absolute power corrupts absolutely--and allowing the government to be judge, jury, and prosecution in such cases is tantamount to granting it absolute power.

JCitizen
JCitizen

If I remember my old 1800's out of date but still on the municipal law codes; any exhortation spoken loudly enough to incite panic is a violation of municipal or state(or both in some cases)law. To this day we still see tens of people killed in clubs that catch fire and people still act like a herd of elephants trying to get out, trampling all over one and other causing mass consternation and death. Apparently they didn't remember their grade school fire drills; or perhaps they stopped teaching that in the schools now days?

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Yes, we have the right to intercept suspected phone calls from another country like afghanistan to ours...if perceived a threat, he clearly didn't state anyone to anyone. If the media reports on our intelligence gathering in a legit situation thereby stopping the flow of info, then that is traitorous. Not only that it irresponsible media coverage, un-american and nothing more than a cheap ploy to sell headlines. You can't generalize a statement like that. That would be like me defending myself after commiting murder by proclaiming I had the right to bear arms. I may have had the right to bear arms, but my actions were clearly wrong.

Mr L
Mr L

..if the theater is in fact burning.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I call that treason; I know they have a constitutional right to report the news, but you don't have the right to yell "fire" in a crowded theater and you don't have the right to aid and abet the ememy while hiding behind the first amendment.

Mr L
Mr L

Am I correctly inferring that you believe the government has the right to intercept any communications, from anyone to anyone, and that any media outlet which reports that criminal and unconstitutional behavior is a traitor?

jdclyde
jdclyde

You don't have ANY right to free speech on a WoW server, any more than you do here on TR. You only have the rights that the owners of these PRIVATE servers allows you to have. You have NO rights to privacy here or on ANY WoW server. A privately owned server is not the same as your personal phone line, and no court order is required as long as the owners of the server allow the feds in. It is amazing how many people don't really know what rights they do or don't have.

jdclyde
jdclyde

should put pressure to make sure that he/she NEVER works an honest job again, for the rest of his/her miserable life. The news outlet that also carried it should also be publicly flogged. The FIRST time information like that gets released, the military should pull ALL reporters from combat regions, give them all a background check, and let them APPLY for a post, with the full understanding that revealing of confidential information is Espionage and all spies can and will be shot.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

there is a right to be protected against unlawful search and siezure. However, if you are doing something suspicious in a public place, you have no expectation of privacy at all.

vtassone
vtassone

What most of these left wing A$$wipe media types don't learn any more is that "with freedom comes responsibility" The guy that reported the royal was fighting in Afganistan should be shot. He put everyone in extream danger. At the very least he should have let the Brits know before he printed his big scoop.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Free speach in WoW? Sure, you have the right to it. Speak however you want, but now you're saying no one can listen? The feds aren't stopping their right to do what they want...they're just watching what they're doing. Big freakin deal IMO. I definetly don't see where the right to free speech is infringed upon by big brother listening. Big brither has a job to do and he can't do it if we tie one hand behind his back.

Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

Free speech and the right of privacy. Yes, now you'll say, "You shouldn't worry unless you have something to hide." Okay, but that goes both ways, they shouldn't worry unless they have something to hide.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Sacrificing what liberty? The government NEEDS to gather data on us. If they don't and some crimes/illegal operations/acts of terrorism go unchecked...then we'll all start screaming "Why doesn't the government do their job?" If you take away intelligence gathering all you have left is guess work or what some informant tells you. When something slips through the cracks people scream at the fed for not being diligent enough. Yet when no major events hit the news people say they are going too far and need to relax. I don't have much respect for the majority of reporting you see on CNN or FOX for that matter. It's all biased toward the left or the right wing. If you want an honest unbiased report, you have to research it yourself (or read tech articles here...sometimes).

Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

Didn't General Sherman get in trouble for arresting reporters? It seems there's something about freedom of the press in the Constitution. Remember what Franklin said, "Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither."

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Yes, the constitution is more than just an inconvenient piece of paper. But if we aren't careful in how we use it or abide by it we'll have very bad people hiding behind it. I never said anything about liberal wingnuts. I can even agree with a very small number of liberal views, albeit very, very, very, very, very few. Our government has a series of checks and balances and it is our responsibility to educate ourselves on the issues at hand, our politicians and their histories. If we do that...in theory and in the spirit of the constitution...the "liberal wingnuts" like yourself (no offense pal, you said it!) and people like myself will meet in the middle through our elected officials and make this country a better place. Don't get me wrong, I still feel it's the greatest country on earth and I'm proud to teach my son to raise the flag in my front yard, showing him how to pa respect to it by carrying it with pride, not showing disrespect by allowing it to touch the ground, explaining to him why we fly it at half staff when a local officer/fire fighter/ems worker dies in the line of duty and take him to our military museums to help him understand the sacrifices our countrymen/women have madeover the years to make this country safe and great.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I think it is interesting that people on both spectrums of political leaning find one or more parts of the Constitution to be an "inconvenience". I seem to remember a great liberal outcry when Ashcroft stated the obvious about the second amendment.

DanLM
DanLM

You do know that inteligence gathering means SPIES right? You do know that it also means monitoring people don't you? https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/books-and-monographs/the-founding-fathers-of-american-intelligence/art-1.html [i]But it was Washington's adroitness as a manager of agents and his skillful use of their reporting that best commend him as the Founding Father of American collection of foreign intelligence. In addition to managing countless spies around British forces' locations, [u]he ran numerous agent networks inside British-controlled New York City and Philadelphia.[/u] His operatives provided daily reporting on British troop movements and often were able to report on the plans and intentions of enemy commanders.[/i] If you bitch and moan because its from the CIA. Then your lazy and completely biased, Because your unwilling to double check the facts. Which I expect to be the case. Meaning your biased completely in your oppinion. And a selective reader of history who ignores most of the facts. So, put up or shut up. Inteligence services have been with the USA sence the beginning. When I say beginning, I mean our founding fathers did it also. But, I wonder if your sence of history is only what you want to beleive and not the truth. Dan

jdclyde
jdclyde

a provision is to keep us safe from threats, and terrorists that have already shown they want to kill citizens of the US are a threat. If you recall, the same well-to-do's just got done protecting and freeing us from England, so were not a bunch of smelly hippies.

SFalchionRomantic
SFalchionRomantic

Funny you should state that our government has "NO LEGAL AUTHORITY" to provide healthcare, but at the same time defend the domestic spying programs it's been perpetuating--funny, that is, because a little document called the U.S. Constitution mentions that the government must "promote the general welfare", while making ABSOLUTELY NO PROVISION for so-called "intelligence" agencies. Oh, but that's right--the Constitution was written by a bunch of well-to-do 18th-century intellectuals. So it needn't apply anymore, I take it?

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

That is something I can agree with. A degree of intelligence gathering is needed...but to what lengths? Does the government need to notify its citizens on every aspect of the process? No, because if they do the whole investigative process is absolutely worthless and we merely trust the citizens to do the right thing. One look in our overcrowded jails will tell you that can never happen. Another area that concerns me will be gun control. (Off topic warning, lol) I firmly believe our gun control laws are far too lax and this will be an area focused on very soon. I personally collect guns and I have a concealed carry permit. I needed to register to purchase all of my handguns, yet my AR-15 (think semi auto M16 for you non gun people ;) )with 30 round magazines as well as my 15+ shotguns were purchased with merely a driver's license. I'd be willing to submit to a few more background checks there if it meant keeping the people out to ban my right to bear arms at bay. One state board I know of was looking at banning cologne in public schools since some kids stink and cover up with it. That's a little too much intervention. The OBD computer in my car tells Uncle Sam I have a super charger, cams, and all sorts of modifications...as well as the fact I've shifted at red line and twisted the speedometer to 140+. It doesn't report that this was done on a race track legally. I guess I'm just trying to say we need government control and supervision in moderation and it is up to us as citizens to elect the right people to do that.

imonroe
imonroe

I'm not sure why, and I guess I shouldn't be, but I'm pleasantly surprised by the number of rational responses to this article. I pray all the rational thinkers on this site exercise their constitutional right and vote to keep the constitution alive. The government is in the buisness of defending our country, not providing for our every need.

NetMan1958
NetMan1958

"Your trite "if you're not doing anything wrong, why should you care?" attitude would come to an abrupt halt if the government decided to install through-the-walls monitoring systems at your home and wander through your house at 3:00 AM without a warrant or probable cause, I'll bet." I don't have a comment, just a question and I would appreciate an honest answer. Are you REALLY afraid of that happening?

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Pushing judeo-facism, eh? That's funny, I was thinking this was all over oil to begin with. Yes, it is good logic to assume you need to resort to similar tactics when engaging an enemy threatening you on any level. If someone is in a threatening positionentering my home, am I going to reason with them peacefully or shoot them if I get the chance? The same holds true internationally. Regardless of what we have done internationally, if someone threatens us we should respond and defend ourselves accordingly. Once someone resorts to violence they are committed and no ammount of reasoning or peace treaty talks will stop them. I'm not justifying our being in Iraq, mind you...just making a statement.

SFalchionRomantic
SFalchionRomantic

Our enemies both internal and external don't live by our rules, laws, morals or guidelines so it is impossible to fight them if we are hampered by them as well. So, basically, we aren't, and have no right to be, any better than them? Wow. Great logic there. And what "enemies" are these, pray tell? The only people rallying against America are people America has trampled, either directly or through choice of allies. You and your kind operate on a variety of false premises, sir, particularly the one that states that terrorism/hatred happens in a vacuum. If we stopped supporting Judeo-fascism, the Middle East would stop supporting Islamo-fascism.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Why doesn't the government just post a big list of everything they monitor? That way you'll feel better knowing your rights haven't been violated in any way what so ever. In the meantime, anyone up to no good monitors the same list. Then they know how to communicate covertly. By that logic we should disbar all investigative aspects of all government and law enforcement agencies. From that point foward we'll prosecute criminals that are so kind as to turn themselves in...or maybe the eeny, meeny, miny, moe method.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

If the government agencies have to answer to everything they do too closely then organizations like the FBI, NSA, CIA, SBI will be completely uselss. Next thing you know you have too many people involved in the decision making process for the unit to actuall funtion. Try asking two qualified and experienced individiuals to build a company website with nothing but parameters and guidelines to go by. Chances are it will turn out reasonably well that will be approved by management. Now add into the mix the same two people and a board of 30 people including management and other appointed officials from legal departments, PR and HR. What you will have is an over managed mess that fails to produce results in a timely manner, if at all. "Black ops" division are something neccessary. Granted, there needs to be checks and balances to keep them on the level as much as possible. Our enemies both internal and external don't live by our rules, laws, morals or guidelines so it is impossible to fight them if we are hampered by them as well. Not just terrorist threats, but drug trafficing and any illegal activity. It truly does take a thief to catch a thief, we just need to be wary of how far we are willing to go. And if all this is released to the public, the outcry will cause activities to cease...then everyone will once again whine about the government "not doing anything".

JCitizen
JCitizen

inside the gaming structure. I would think you could figure this out in a weeks time. I shouldn't think pattern recognition would take years of observation to come up with something. If it was supposed to be preventative surveillance; I still wonder how much that is going to cost in relation to its value. It isn't surprising knowing the history of the CIA; they have always been looking for subtle messaging; hollywood alluded to this in stories about actual projects that were way more expensive than this one. Example: "Three Days of the Condor"; "A Beautiful mind"

JCitizen
JCitizen

I've seen too many dumb tactics coming out of Washington on surveillance and field interrogation(torture). We should always keep an eye on our rights; this discussion is just one example of how our system works. It is what makes free speech superior; despite what one person thinks is a dumb statement or another takes issue with.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

There was a time when our intelligence agencies could have stopped terroism without these drastic measures. During the Clinton (not saying this was his fault, but I do blame the Democratic side of congress at the time) administration communication lines between the CIA, FBI and NSA were either cut or hindered by ridiculous political red tape. Laws were also adopted stating we couldn't use "questionable" sources anymore. You can't recruit law abiding muslims with no criminal records in other countries to infiltrate terrorist organizations no more than you can hire an IT professional to infiltrate a drug cartel. Intelligence is a dirty, dirty business not suited for boy scouts. Once again, people criticize the government for doing too much or not doing enough. If you sit on the fence preaching too long, someone will knock you off.

Mr L
Mr L

>> ...because the phone tapping was ONLY if you are chatting with a KNOWN terrorist outside of the USA. This had and has NO EFFECT on the normal citizen, living in the US. >> That's a joke, right? Please tell me you do not seriously believe that only tapping/record gathering that was done had direct links to known terrorists. Please, say it's a joke or I will have to judge you so hopelessly naive as to make further discourse a waste of time.

Mr L
Mr L

I care about it all because it is not only my right to know what my government is up to, it is my responsibility. It is yours as well. Your trite "if you're not doing anything wrong, why should you care?" attitude would come to an abrupt halt if the government decided to install through-the-walls monitoring systems at your home and wander through your house at 3:00 AM without a warrant or probable cause, I'll bet. Your logic has been used before, jd.

Inkling
Inkling

Yes, I was too young to understand or care about Echelon. No, I don't have any use for our main stream media. It's all garbage. No, I don't see a difference in which party is sitting in the the White House. I think our politicians are laughing all the way to the bank at people who believe there really are two parties with two sets of agendas and ideals. The only way our politicians care about you today is if you are the mouthpiece for a special interest group and you are looking to line their pockets. [b]YES[/b], I think you are an idiot if you think our government has proven they are (a) trustworthy enough to have or (b) will do anything to actually stop terrorist attacks with carte blanche access to whichever of our private communications they would like.

DaemonSlayer
DaemonSlayer

I agree, after all, this REPUBLIC is a government FOR, AND BY the people. As far as to this administration, it's actions may have brought such activity to light, but I seriously doubt that the administration can be totally to blame. There has always been people put in seats of power (in any type of government) that are willing to curcumvent any policy or law to increase their powers, to secure what powers they have, etc. using whatever means they can get away with (black ops, "secret police", whatever). It usually is better seen where someone has abolute power, but can, more secretly, exist even in a true democracy or republic. It could be a case of this administration starting something, and some agency taking it beyond the original scope of the action, especially if they feel they are above the law of the land... It could be that this administration is 100% responsible for the extent it is happening, it could be they are only partially responsible. Depends on who you listen to, what conspiracy theory catches your ears (factual or fictional). That's why it is important to look who we pick for office (even if some [super]delagate chooses to ignore our vote out of fear, [blind] loyalty, ambition, or ignorance)

sboverie
sboverie

I have to agree with TiggerTwo on this. It is a silly waste of taxpayer money and this government has not been able to resist the temptation to use intelligence tools in a way that is counter to the reported purpose of those tools. The FBI has admitted that it has submitted letters of security that had nothing to do with terrorism. This is why We the People need an unbiased agency to look at the validity of these requests. The government owes the American people an explaination of what they do with the information they gather and how long they keep it. How can we be a law and order society if the government exempts itself from accountability and law? It is a slippery slope to allow unfettered access to our privacy. You may think you are innocent but given sufficient resources the government can find something to charge you with a crime. In the fight against terrorism, this cure is worse than the disease.

imonroe
imonroe

Games such as WoW and applications like Second Life are the future of communication and commerce. At least I believe so. I think the government has a great idea to start looking into ways to identify suspects in online communities. I applaude their initiative. This is one of the few projects government should spend money on.

jdclyde
jdclyde

and it did turn out to be an avenue for terrorists to communicate, then people would be crying because the government should have found out about it.... It is an easy way for people around the world to communicate, right? It has some people that would NEVER think about looking there, right? [i](obviously as you and Mark both don't think it is valid to even be looking into)[/i] That sounds like to GREAT reasons to use that as a way to communicate. Or is it just that you don't think there is a threat that needs to be monitored in the first place?

Tig2
Tig2

Made law and whose intent is to provide the citizen oversight of the Government that the constitution provides for. I AM concerned with how the Government mines and maintains my private information. I look at data mining of a GAME and wonder if that is the highest and best use of the dollars that the Fed is quite happy to tell me that I don't need. I have to question this use of my tax dollars and wonder if they can't be better used.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

for the fact that I don't think it is an efficient way to gather intelligence about terrorists. They can data mine all they want -- I don't think my privacy is being violated (note I never said anything like that.) I just think it is a waste of time and money and that there certainly must be better ways to catch the bad guys than gathering information from an online game.

jdclyde
jdclyde

being so insane that you are the only one that can understand yourself. Your political bias clouds any hope of rational thought, because the phone tapping was ONLY if you are chatting with a KNOWN terrorist outside of the USA. This had and has NO EFFECT on the normal citizen, living in the US. International image, yeah, go with that. After Barack/Radham-Clinton get there way, we will be part of the global government, so the countries that hate us for our "liberal decedent lifestyles" will start to have a voice in how our country is run.

CavalierX
CavalierX

"They've already started tapping phones. They've filed suits to be given access to email. They can listen in on cell conversations." Good. If you're chatting with or texting your Uncle Osama, I want the Feds to know about it. Hopefully they can discover his coordinates and feed them to a JDAM. As for those who are suddenly worried about wiretapping, I wonder whether they were simply too young to understand when Echelon hit the news ten years ago. Or else whether their concern for privacy waxes and wanes according to which political party sits in the White House.

ntyatecafe
ntyatecafe

America was built around the premise that the Government should be accountable to the people, not the other way around. Think about it. They've already started tapping phones. They've filed suits to be given access to email. They can listen in on cell conversations. Now they want in on MMO's. What's next? I'm all for safety and security, but this administration has gone about this the wrong way and has only succeeded in diminishing America's already tarnished international image.

SFalchionRomantic
SFalchionRomantic

As much as I despise the acronym, LOL. Try "Democracy Now!" if you want the news. The day the mass media becomes left-wing is the day money ceases to exist.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Thanks to US they no longer have to worry about the baath party...arguably one of the bloodiest regimes to ever have power in Iraq. We took care of that threat when they wouldn't. And a legitimate invasion? Defending themselves? Please. The ones committing the acts of violence are self righteous bigots. No more, no less. They won't defend themselves or their own people from violent political parties within their own nation. The ONLY time they ever unite is in hatred...be it hatred for the US or Israel. Again, that is in reference to the violent people, not ALL of the people in that area. But as far as I'm concerned it wasn't worth the hard work and dedication of our heroic troops to begin with. Unless they (Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, whoever) pose a legit threat to someone outside of their international borders I say let them fight it out and see if they can manage to form a decent society.

JCitizen
JCitizen

The idea was I believe to look for patterns of "subtle communication" or some kind of coded communication of one form or another. They have wasted way more money on this in the past. The CIA used to have thousands of people paid to read newpapers and magazines looking for "messages" hidden inside the text to communicate with Russian spys in the US. It was a huge waste of money I suspect. The project shown in the movie "A beautifull mind" was more cryptographic in nature; but they were still looking for patterns in open communications. That one may have paid off at least in telegraphy; but we will never know because it is still classified.

Mr L
Mr L

I don't assume that the bodies I see are those of innocents, any more than I assume that they are those of "legitimate" combatants. Which begs the question of whether or not they are legitimate combatants, or citizens defending their country from an illegal invasion. Ah well, I'm sure we don't want to go there. Anyway, I agree with you, we should get out, now.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I don't know what you assume, but you can't look at a picture of a dead guy and assume he's innocent. After each confrontation, we go around collecting weapons before anything is done with the body...which makes for a primo shot of dead "innocents". I'm not saying there aren't casualties involving bystanders, but I doubt there are as many as the liberal media proclaims there to be. There are men, women and yes young children with AK-47's firing on our troops randomly. I have a very close friend who had to deal with the fact he shot and killed an 11 year old boy who walked out in the street and opened fire on his unit. Things are not what they appear to be in the news. Personally, I think we should pull out all together. That is a very violent region that has been at war with one another and the Jewish people for 1000's of years. Diplomacy nor acts of force will stop this. I say we pull out and let them at each other. But while our troops our over there I will support them %100 and not question them or disrespect them by focusing on innocent casualities. Innocent casualties are a fact of war and absolutely unavoidable. If you want to complain about innocent bystanders, imagine how many people we killed carpet bombing Germany in WWI and II. No war is without them.

Mr L
Mr L

...the undoctored pictures of the innocent dead, are those more in line with what you find acceptable? The "collateral damage" bodies, are those ok?

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

You know, what was I thinking? The CIA, the FBI and the NSA are no longer needed. Who needs the government monitoring us or watching over us? In this highly enlightened society we have nothing to worry about. I'm sure that everything will be ok without big brother. I mean it's not like child predators are lurking around, or there are people from other countries that hate us. While I'm at it, I think I'll get rid of all my guns and have my concealed carry permit revoked. We have freedom...why worry about a little thing like defending it?

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

"One if by land, two if by sea" would have been plastered all over the front page.

TheGooch1
TheGooch1

That way you'll feel more secure huddling in the corner of your hut, know that the Gov is watching everything you do so you will feel safe. The rest of us will stay here and enjoy the right to say "mind your own business" without fear of being jailed. What you fail to realize is something the President John F. Kennedy so clearly stated "The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. " More here -> http://www.jfklibrary.org/Historical+Resources/Archives/Reference+Desk/Speeches/JFK/003POF03NewspaperPublishers04271961.htm

jdclyde
jdclyde

and not in the main stream of things. What we find now are opinion based pieces, instead of reporting the facts. There is a bit of a difference between writing a tech paper and politics, although there are a few here that are more political towards their choice of operating platforms. I won't say Georges name though.... :p

Tig2
Tig2

That those of us who write for TR are "media types"? Blogging is indeed considered a media form and I don't consider myself any less a writer because the periodical that I write FOR happens to be online or happens to cater to a technical crowd. As a writer, I am able to choose my audience at any time- I just like this one. What I am saying is that any time you indulge in generalizations, you dilute your message to a point that it no longer comes across. There are a great many ethical journalists. Don't count them out.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I don't think jd's ideology is not out of date. I think it's spot on and more people should agree with them. If we sacrifice inteligence gathering at the expense of violating what some say is "privacy" then why bother having an intelligence community? If we "know exactly how and when our privacy may be violated by the government" then so does eveyone else in the world. Alot of these people that get bent out of shape over their "freedoms" when the government gathers information are the same one that whine about pro-active police work. You know...monitoring people, spotting suspects and catching the bad guys IN the act? As opposed to waiting for someone to perform a crime then figuring out who did it and go after them. Working with intelligence is alot like police work. It is virtually impossible to stop or prevent CRIME...the weak point that you can stop is the CRIMINAL.

jdclyde
jdclyde

As has been proven to be the case, more than once. These people that are intentionally portraying us as the real enemy really are the ones that are anti-American, and intentionally distorting things to make the US look bad IS giving aid to the enemy. I would LOVE to see media outlets held to SOME kind of standard. They should be sued for fraud against the American public, and I don't care WHAT political agenda they push, or what network it is. If they KNOWINGLY report something that is false, their should be more of a penalty, at least by the FCC, than if you swear or show some mommy parts.

jdclyde
jdclyde

Being in a Republic does not change that our government can not do their job to protect us [i](one of the few jobs they do that they are actually SUPPOSE to do)[/i]. Please state specifically what liberty, essential or otherwise, is being given up by our government watching for terrorist communications. It is a shame that you will not be able to, making you look rather silly. The internet is a public domain, so if you are communicating in a game such as WoW, do you have a right or need for privacy, if you fit the activity of someone that is planning terrorist activities?

CavalierX
CavalierX

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." -Benjamin Franklin Whenever someone throws that quote at me, I ask the following question: what "essential liberty" are you giving up here, and why do you think the safety thus purchased is not worth it? I'm not certain the Founders would have gone to war against the entire British Empire to protect their right to play a game. But in this case, the Feds are using the online community to spot general trends. At least they're showing some imagination, for a change. And don't say Warcraft has nothing to do with the real world unless you missed the Ron Paul rallies on certain servers, or forgot the disease vector research now being conducted as a result of the Corrupted Blood plague.

ntyatecafe
ntyatecafe

That type of ideology is too out of date. We as citizens have the right to know exactly how and when our privacy may be violated by the government. I agree that the public doesn't need to know about the special operations being planned or carried out right now in the middle east; however, any operations that affect U.S. citizens' or their privacy should be made known. "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." -Benjamin Franklin

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

especially on that point! Another point is that war is a very dirty thing. Putting it on TV along with the carnage left over after a battle (i.e. dead insurgents in non military regalia littering the street) puts a very bad taste in the general public?s mouth. When their corpse is lying on the ground all mutilated (weapons already collected of course) it just looks bad...they fail to show the picture of the guy running around with an AK-47 on a homicidal rampage. Killing an armed insurgent doesn't sell news, but doctored up pictures of the "innocent" dead does.

jdclyde
jdclyde

There are many "truths" that should NEVER see the light of day. We, the citizens, do not and should not, know how and when we will be performing military actions. If we know it, then the targets know it to. Why would we ever intentionally give aid to the enemy, and when it is done, it IS treason.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I have to agree with you on journalists. I had a buddy who branched out into journalism. I swear, this guy went from the loyal drinking partner on weekends to a left wing radical. It was like he was taken over by the borg or something. At one point when I held a government IT job I wouldn't even hang out with him as he was constantly asking odd questions about work. It was akin to getting intellectually violated by what you thought was a friend, lol. Reporting the truth is one thing, injecting your opinion is another. To actually get the news these days you have to watch the news on the extreme left (CNN), then the extreme right (FOX) and THEN do some research on your own to find out what really happened...free of political opinions and agendas. When it comes to news, they all stretch the truth to fit their political views...I see no network that simply "reports the news" anymore.

CavalierX
CavalierX

Journalists have always been more concerned with getting their name on a story than whether it's right to publish it, but at least editors USED to exercise some kind of discretion. These days... not so much. Journalism schools turn out hordes of eager young left-wing idealists who want to use the power of the press to change the world, instead of inform the readers. "I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. If I killed them all there would be news from Hell before breakfast." - William Tecumseh Sherman

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