Thursday, April 19, 2007

"virtual" online gambling safe... for now.

First, let me make it clear that I never intended to be a Second Life blogger. I've never even played Second Life. But when I look at my tags and see just how many Second Life posts I've made, well, I've got to face facts. I've become a SL blogger. SL is just so perfectly hedonistic, such a funny little experiment of human interaction and behavior in a technical environment, how could I resist? Here you have a place where people can be the person they want to be, not the person they are. They can do the socially unacceptable - they could run down the virtual street virtually naked and still go to work the next day. So how DO people behave when you minimize or eliminate consequences? Hm, maybe I should go visit SL just to peoplewatch... I'm such a voyeur.

Anyhow, I recently read that the Feds visited Second Life to check out the gambling. Of course online gambling is illegal in most states of the USA, but people are gambling on SL and winning REAL money. For some reason though, that's ok. For now.

Honestly, I think everyone (including the Feds) knows that 'virtual' gambling with real money is still gambling, and is therefore illegal. But if the Feds decide to take that position, how can they police it, aside from taking SL off the net?

"...Linden Lab could potentially face criminal charges under the 1970 Illegal Gambling Business Act or the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. The latter law, passed last year, takes aim at credit card companies and other electronic funds transfers that enable Internet gambling."

..."Linden Lab's rules prohibit illegal activity.

"It's not always clear to us whether a 3-D simulation of a casino is the same thing as a casino, legally speaking, and it's not clear to the law enforcement authorities we have asked," Yoon* said.

Even if the law were clear, he said the company would have no way to monitor or prevent gambling in Second Life.

*Ginsu Yoon, until recently Linden Lab's general counsel and currently vice president for business affairs

And if online gambling is illegal in SL, what about the prostitution? Sure, I know, the prostitution in SL is also virtual, no bodily fluids exchanged, just some one handed typing. It's about as dangerous as renting porn or watching pay-per-view sex webcams. But that is changing too. Technology continues to evolve, thanks to human ingenuity (and the fact that hardware doesn't complain about your leaving the toilet seat up/down). There is a growing field I can't type without laughing, you'll just have to read about it here. But as products like this are developed (Note: that link is NOT safe for work), and a virtual prostitute and virtual John can push keyboard buttons to stimulate each other's bodies in reality, where does that fall in the definition of netsex and prostitution?

As always, many questions, few answers. Except 42. I've got that answer.


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Why anonymity is necessary

Because in some parts of the world, dissenting opinions can get you put in prison.

From the New York Times:

...Yahoo has come under particularly sharp criticism. Human rights groups say that Yahoo has helped identify at least four people, including the journalist Shi Tao in 2004, who have since been imprisoned for voicing dissent in cyberspace.

In other parts of the world, you can lose your job. oh wait, that's right here... If you are hard core about protecting your anonymity, here are a few tips from the EFF.


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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Con Calendar updated

I took some time tonight to update the conference calendar - LOTS of interesting new stuff. IT Underground is going to Dublin... London is getting yet another confab that looks to have good potential, it will be interesting to see what overlap (if any) the Black and White Ball will have with EUSecWest and UnCon. BAD ELPHIE, I didn't get HITB Dubai on the list until after the event, my deepest apologies to the HITB crew (not that any of them read this, but still...) The third CONfidence happens in Krakow Poland in May. Perhaps most interesting is the new conference in Asia, VNSeCon in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. VIET-freaking-Nam! That's awesome. We're everywhere.

When I have time I'm going to try to create a section for some of the smaller meet-up events like ChiSec, BeanSec, Atlanta's SIP, etc. But no time for that this week.

Did I miss an event? Let me know!


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RFID Guardian

This isn't super new, but I just ran across it last week. Pretty interesting, if you are paranoid about RFID security like I am.

The RFID Guardian Project is a collaborative project focused upon providing security and privacy in Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) systems. The goals of our project are to:
Investigate the security and privacy threats faced by RFID systems
Design and implement real solutions against these threats
Investigate the associated technological and legal issues
The namesake of our project is the RFID Guardian: a mobile battery-powered device that offers personal RFID security and privacy management. One the focuses of our project is to build an RFID Guardian prototype.

Our group also performed the first-ever research on RFID Malware.


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Monday, April 09, 2007


From the headlines... Bloggers call for a code of manners? Call for an end to anonymous commenting? (remember, people think anonymity is the enemy here)

I agree, bloggers should be able to delete comments from their blogs without facing accusations of censorship - IF the comments are offensive or pure flame-bait without merit. Censorship happens when you delete comments that merely disagree with you. I don't think rampant comment censorship is spawning the Blog Civility movement though.

I'm with Scoble, the proposed 'code of manners' is not something I'm willing to sign on for. Not because I'm pro-harassment, but because I'm anti-regulation, and the crazy social pressure that is resulting from it. What's more, I'm not willing to post their stupid 'Anything Goes' logo on my site, because that suggests that I recognize their program's legitimacy in policing the manners of the blogosphere. Bullshit. And yes, Mr. O'Reilly, I'd be willing to say that to you in person.

Bloggers are not so freaking special that they need a code of manners to govern their conduct. Civility cannot be regulated into existence. What we need is some basic courtesy in the world. Disagreements are disagreements. You don't post photos of the people you dislike in violent or sexually explicit ways, you don't drag their families into it, you don't make threats. Grow up people. It's called the Golden Rule. Check it out.


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