Thursday, December 21, 2006
Judge Posner Chats in Second Life™ 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
This is a fascinating read: the University of Chicago Law School's Judge Richard A. Posner, of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, author of Not a Suicide Pact, and a blogger in his own right as half of the Becker-Posner Blog, took part in an unusual live online interview in Creative Commons' Kula Island - in the virtual metaverse of Second Life. Judge Posner provides provocative answers to questions on topics like intellectual property, constitutional law and civil liberties in the War on Terror, parody, satire, fair use and fan-fiction. Here's a taste (excerpt courtesy of nwn.blogs.com):
H[amlet] A[u]: Finally from me, sir, a question related to where we are now. The Internet is already an essential recruiting, communication, and logistical tool for Al Qaeda and its ideological adherents, so it seems inevitable to me that terrorists will be attracted to Second Life. For example, to "dry run" attacks in simulated environments they custom-build, to launder money through Linden Dollars, and most advantageous for them, to communicate anonymously as avatars in a way that would be very difficult for government officials to track. For all we know, Al Qaeda may already be in Second Life, doing those very things right now.

Obviously it's a concern, but what should be the legal response? A court warrant so the Feds can monitor chat dialog in Second Life? A law that requires Linden Lab to cull their database for suspect conversations and activity? Suggest some legal principles, sir, for Constitutionally permissible counter-terrorism in the metaverse.

J[udge] R[ichard] P[osner]: There is I believe no legal impediment to an FBI special agent enrolling in Second Life under an avatar that would not identify him as an agent. The general rule is that if a building or other area is open to the public, anyone can enter if he adheres to the rules of the owner, but the owner cannot bar an investigator who does not resort to coercion or other distinctive police methods of investigation.

But in response to your broader question, the Internet offers opportunities both for terrorists and counterterrorism. Open source intelligence (that is, intelligence gleaned from public sources such as the Web) is an increasingly important form of intelligence used by the CIA and other government agencies. So it's an arms race between the opposing forces, both seeking maximum advantage from the digital revolution.
Later, during a virtual autograph signing...
Cindy Heying, an avatar in the Pamela Anderson mode, approaches the Judge to have her autograph signed.
Cindy Heying [grinning]: Hello. Thank you!
JRP: Hi... Watch out, my wife is watching.
Suddenly, another griefer attack is unleashed on the colisieum.
Neptune Rebel: Fireball!
Chancery Jae: Oh no, it's Al Qaeda again.
Undaunted, Judge Posner continues autographing books.
Quee Taiyang [having her book signed]: Thank you your honor!
JRP: My pleasure. But where's the raccoon? Come back here, raccoon. That's an order.
Kear Nevzerov: Yes, sir?
JRP: Hi. I have a Maine Coon cat--half raccoon. Her name is Dinah. She was in the New Yorker.
KN: It's what they gave me when I signed up yesterday. Would like to lose the tail.
JRP: Your tail is great.
Good stuff. Read the whole thing at Wagner James Au's New World Notes.

Labels: , , ,