Wednesday, September 7, 2011

and old ladies with toads for pets, who mumble incantations that make you scream

(Continued from part IV.)

Now, there was mention in the original SLU thread about a JIRA issue that was almost instantaneously pulled from public view and archived, because the comments went from neutral to obscenely inflammatory within hours. There is a comment preserved from Soft Linden on that JIRA:
"Working backward from the list of resis in the recently published resi IP list, I was able to build a list of the locations visited by a large share of those resis. Working from the location list, I pulled historic simulator states for those locations and found several of the IP collection probes.

"The operator is affiliated with a large group of resis who were previously banned from SL, and who were told they were not allowed to return. I've referred that to Governance. It's up to Governance whether they blacklist, ban, or warn. I suspect their action will be swift on this one, given the prior history.

"I also see that members of a 'policing' group acknowledge having operated their own IP collectors. They claim they stopped collecting around the time Red Zone was removed from SL. I've asked the policing group for confirmation and details while I'm doing my own research, and I've referred that to Governance as well. It's pretty clear that if they did/do have their own collection, it's not the same as the recently published set.

"How you can help:

"If anyone finds an object that's still making suspicious media requests to a third-party site, or back to an object on the simulator itself, please file an Abuse Report against the actual object. You can assume we'll have heard about any second-hand reports that you see circulating in blogs and forums - reporting those just muddies up the AR lists. Governance gets very few legitimate first-hand reports about these probes. These are the smoking guns that can help Governance act more swiftly."
Which is all well and good, but for me, what's unnerving me is not the question of whether or not they're gathering IP addresses (which Soft seems to assert that the system isn't doing, anyway), but that they're fully willing to compromise, falsify, or manipulate chat transcripts in order to gain ARs that will hold up in world; that they're willing to cyberstalk at least one dying man (and griefer or not, that is so beyond morally, ethically, legally and psychologically wrong it's not even funny); and that they're planting recording devices that record any kind of resident information (a la CDS Gemini) without estate owner permission or compliance.

Yeah. IP addresses, at this point? It's fairly simple to get them, it's being done all over, from Google on down. But the rest of things, the proveable actions they seem to have taken? That to me says "crazed stalkerbait" and that scares me. Especially because there are members of the JLU I'm hearing from in the chat logs that I know personally.

In the past two days alone, I've gone from a shrugging acceptance to seriously, literally, wanting to ban, block and mute them from my friendslist. All of this is that unnerving to me. And I don't mute people; to this day, it is still extremely difficult for me to mute any resident in world, because I believe so strongly that anyone should be allowed to speak their mind to me. (Whether or not I listen, or act on it, that's beside the point; no one should be blocked, to my admittedly idealist thinking, from the simple act of airing grievances or concerns, one avatar to another.)

But the members of the JLU have blown past all barriers in their narrowly focused, single-minded pursuit of griefing in any conceivable form, that they're willing to discard their own oath to wage further war on the groups and individuals they see as harming the grid.

Which, at this point, could be any of us. When Avril Korman receives a threat in her email, for writing about as fair and even-handed an article on the JLU as I've read over the past three days--friends and neighbors, we're all under the gun, and Kalel's hand is on the trigger.

I do mean that literally, by the way. Reference this comment from the original SLU thread, followed by this comment. Back to back, they're chilling in their demonstration of how far Kalel at least says he will go.

And let me be clear here--I am not saying griefing is Happy Fun Time. I believe the Wrong Hands group was a griefing group, and most of them were banned for it. I believe the Patriotic Nigras were also a griefing group, and still make incursions onto the grid for no good reason (in my opinion), even after most of their original members were banned from the grid. I believe, by and large, most (if not all) griefers on SL are griefing for the wrong reasons, and there is real, genuine, and sometimes occasionally even proveable hurt that occurs as a result.

I also believe that the Encyclopedia Dramatica's lists of RL addresses, not at all infrequently linked to SL avatars, is wildly in the wrong. Once someone has your address, any number of harassments become more possible. I'm not saying there are any "good guys" in this mess at this point.

But to blithely say that you'd shoot someone? Just for knocking on your door? With no moral grey area, no indecision, seemingly no empathy for the fact that he'd be killing people? Innocent or not, that ups the stakes. Anyone--anyone, whether they're an estate owner or just another flunky on the mainland--who threatens to kill another RL person...that makes that person dangerous in the extreme.

This directly from this part of the summary thread:
"Tux, in order to show the depth of the info that the JLU is amassing, posts his own entry from the bwiki. It's a showstopper. It also takes FIVE POSTS. Read it. If nothing else it shows you the sheer granularity of what they're after. It's horrifying."
Now, remember what I said a couple paragraphs back, on griefing being a waste of time and energy better spent doing anything else? And that, to the best of my knowledge, the Wrong Hands was/is an active griefing group? (If anyone has information that says otherwise, do let me know.)

Even knowing that, the level of output, with RL names, places of residence, assumed occupation, accusations of pedophilia and ageplay...it's really, really horrifying, on a gut level. That, and if any of the chat transcripts are accurate, we're dealing with some fairly disturbed folks here. I quote:
[19:38] Vakesh Ishtari: Sir, i was at bloodmoon, Tux was on voice, while zen was
also on voice, doing perversion with their slave pet and minor they pulled off
the teen grid. Zen's kids were in his room and he was doing this on voice.
In order of importance, at least to me:
  • Having your kids in the same room while having voice sex is pretty wrong. But I would ask: how old are the kids in question? If they're all teenagers, say (assuming more than two, hence 'kids'), then that just levels out at sleazy. If they're under ten, while not criminally actionable, that's flooring the drama pedal and screaming right into full-bore creepy.
  • However, that phrase of 'slave pet'. Thus, drawing the conclusion that any acts of domination and submission (or other forms of BDSM) are beyond the pale on SL. Excuse me? Congressmen own leather whips and butt plugs and share hotel rooms with rentboys now. It's 2011. Grow the hell up.
  • But that also pairs unsettlingly with the phrase "doing perversion". What, pray tell, does that mean, exactly? Round of spanking? Blowjobs? Forcing an old-style Sion chicken to collide with someone's kneecaps over and over? Sex with three human avatars and a Meeroo? We have zero idea what "doing perversion" means, save that it sounds far worse than it likely was in actuality. Also, it's really stilted phrasing, so I have to ask, how old is Vakesh? And if there's religion involved on Vakesh's part, especially Christian fundamentalism, then "doing perversion" could be anything from "OMG they weren't MARRIED!" to "she's underage, he's a horse, and he's slapping her with a flounder wrapped in bacon". We just don't know.
  • And of course, my end question has to be: this was all happening in voice in main chat? Okay, that's just gross. But also, even were all this happening in voice, Vakesh had to be pretty damned close to hear everything clearly, so now we have this avatar lurking (one hopes for the love of all things inconspicuously) in the vicinity, listening with bated breath for any hints of "doing perversion". That's sick, and wrong.
Another bit from the summary thread:
The fun wasn't nearly over yet though, gang, because TheListSL stopped in for a charming dump of some more info from the bwiki, proving that KalEl Venkman was indeed Drone1 Resident, and that the W-Hat group was in fact destroyed by him. Further, that he fervently supported and continues to support alt detection all the way through the RZ saga and indeed, to this day.
Personally, I could care less about the W-Hats or whose alt is whose. I'm not a proponent of alt detection, I just don't care, and frankly, having been in groups where one user gained control and killed the group, that's a flaw of group ownership--don't give ownership rights to anyone you don't absolutely trust, because bad things happen. That's a duh channel moment.

But jumping to this, let's see if I'm tracking things accurately:
The base station then relays all the information gathered about the avatar and relays it to the Phantom Zone server, but only if the correct hash code is received. The unique hash code protects the base station from receiving spoofed identify packets. Packets that do not carry the correct hash code are simply discarded.
The transmitted data would contain the following information about the given avatar:
Avatar Name
Avatar DOB (in SL terms, the inception date of the account)
Avatar Height (griefers don't plan on being able to keep an avatar more than a few hours, and so usually don't bother such refinements as adjusting avatar height - a default avatar height therefore is a valid marker either of an inexperienced player or a throwaway account.)
Avatar UUID
Name of client being used
Version of client being used
Name of operating system being used
Version of operating system being used
An encrypted hash of the IP address used by the client
The use of in-world HTTP-in servers precludes the use of cookies to establish a 100% certainty that a given machine is being used by a given avatar, as cookies are not supported by LSL. We sacrifice a certain amount of accuracy by using the in-world servers to firewall our system.
Of course, assuming--and that's a heavy assumption--that this is actually accurate information...let's break this down.
  • Avatar Name. Publically available information. Result: null issue.
  • Avatar DOB. Publically available information. Result: null issue.
  • Avatar Height. That's interesting if true, and something I never really considered--that griefers won't really bother with changing their height, because they're using easily disposable avatars to get in and get out. Plus to me, making most of my avatars shorter than the norm. But end result is still (to me, at least): null issue.
  • Avatar UUID. There are several ways to get this information, from LSL code lines on down. Virtually anyone can do it, and some third-party viewers do it automatically on the in-world profile. Result: null issue.
  • Name of client being used. Again, with most third-party viewers, it's listed over the head of the avatar. Result: null issue.
  • Version of client being used. See above. Result: null issue.
  • Name of operating system being used. Ah, now we're getting into interesting territory. Why is the operating system on the user's computer being accessed? And if that information is being accessed, at least to the extent of how well the viewer in question verifies that information, is that a privacy violation? Result: ISSUE.
  • Version of operating system being used. See above. Result: ISSUE.
  • An encrypted hash of the IP address used by the client. And BIG FLAMING ISSUE for this last one.
I swear, I just don't have a settled place in my brain for any of what's turning up. Here I thought Zen just had a creepy hobby, along with half the Wulfenbachs, now it turns out half the Steamlands and a tenth of everyone I know is moving towards the "EVIL; DO NOT TRUST" category in my mind. I do not like feeling like this!
[09:06] Hal Jordan [GreenLantern Excelsior]: We're going to have to start being careful about calling out people's alts. Next time the wiki is stolen it could cause problems
You THINK?!?

You know, I'm actually glad I'm going out to wrangle with my bank in a few minutes. It gets me out of the house and away from all this lunacy. When, precisely, did the good guys become the bad guys? And why?

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