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Monday, January 13, 2014


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Did anyone else get the irony of choosing Ash Qin to talk about virtual world spies?

For the record: Four years ago, Ash Qin and Simone Linden aka. Skills Hak exploited a flaw in the viewer's media auto-playback setting to collect avatar metadata and create a database mapping avatar names to IP addresses. The system, marketed under the name "CDS", was technically identical with zFire Xue's "Red Zone" but, unlike the latter, was never banned by LL.

CDS allows its operators to identify alt accounts and to ban random people from any sim where it is installed. In order to get it installed on as many sims as possible, it was peddled to land owners with the snakeoil claim to protect them from copybots. Notice the interesting parallel between the copybot scare in SL and the terrorism scare in RL, both being first created and later exploited by three-letter outfits. :)

Since CDS relied on media auto-playback, it was easy to circumvent (and there were YouTube videos proving just that), but it sure did its job as a griefing tool. When I pointed out the privacy implications of matching IP addresses on LL's forum, I was promptly banned from hundreds of regions and labeled a copybot user.

If you have any trouble understanding the abuse potential of the NSA's large scale metadata collection in the real world, all you need to do is study the history of CDS and Red Zone in SL. The parallels are astounding.

I was amused when Ash told Draxtor about his ability to identify people's alts by the way they talk or move around. Yeah, right. SL badly needs more investigative journalism.

By the way, the reason why CDS, unlike Red Zone, wasn't banned by LL is because its makers were smart enough not to openly advertise the system's alt identification capability to customers who were dumb enough to purchase the device. Apparently spying is OK as long as it doesn't embarrass the government. ;)


So why nobody is filling abuse reports against those 2?


Iris, thx for the kind words as we are just getting started! I will mention this on the next show as well but here it goes: I hope people understand that we are NOT doing investigative journalism - this is NOT the BBC or something akin to [my favorite public radio program] "On The Media" from WYNC. We know this and we are not attempting to pretend we can ever do a show like this on a zero budget while working away on a 50+ hours day job. In fact having worked full time as a radio reporter a few years back I see with disgust how budgets in commercial and non-profit media are being slashed, how shoe-leather type reporters who know their beat are being replaced by commentators and how daily news is being disseminated with the sole angle of winner against loser and while ignoring in-depth policy issues. We do not want to be part of that type of noise-making. We want to provide an hour of summarizing and commenting on stories that pertain to our passion which is the Metaverse. That being said: the vital element here is community participation, comments and counter arguments when it comes to controversial issues like Red Zone etc however since we are a PODCAST we NEED to have folks come on the show and share their point of view in voice! So call away & spread the word!

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