The US intelligence arm Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) is warning that terrorist groups may be using the online social networks of virtual worlds like SecondLife.com to recruit, meet, plan and exchange strategic information.
The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity is a division of the US Intelligence Community that studies developing technologies.
The IARPA warned that virtual worlds like Second Life are creating opportunities for terrorist cells to “recruit, rehearse, transfer money and ultimately engage in information warfare or worse with impunity.”
IARPA recommendations include the setting up of teams of intelligence experts who would investigate virtual worlds and monitor potential terrorist threats.
The US Central Intelligence Agency currently has a virtual presence in Second Life, which is used for training and meetings.
However, some privacy experts warn that the IARPA warnings are an excuse for the ever expanding online government surveillance plans. Privacy campaigner Jim Dempsey, policy director at the Center for Democracy and Technology, noted that the government had made similar warnings about the internet and mobile phones.