The latest Privacy Panic in SL instigated by the goons at Sluniverse.com has spawned an epic Summer Blockbuster thread over at Sluniverse.com Sharia Court -- as I mentioned -- and I don't feel that the Justice League United (JLU) got to tell their side of the story, in part because GreenLantern Excelsior, a leader, was suspended from the forums for "disclosure" or publishing real-life information (in this case, of the already-self-exposed RL information of Deadly Codec, who died of AIDs).
Publishing this interview is just a public service to add to the public discourse -- it's not an endorsement of vigilantism. I just think with all the dozens of Woodburies and related grieftards at SLun, and the constant spinning and distracting and deliberate hoaxes and active measures (propagandistic actions to shape public opinion), the JLU story needs to be told.
I see yet another tendentious story in the Herald, this time an interview with an RP leader of the sim Antiquity, who is disgruntled with the JLU because he thinks it is capturing information. It seems to me all that happened is that he was incited and whipped up to a frenzy by the Sluniverse.com gang, and to protect his community he felt he should "opt out" of the Phantom Zone anti-griefing system. Neither he nor the Herald nor anybody on Sluniverse.com has come up with any real case of privacy violation that I can tell, although perhaps this is yet to come.
Why did I pick GreenLantern instead of Kalel Venkman? Well, a long-time friend of mine happened to vouch for GL, and said he was decent. I don't know about Venkman and I figured he would not reply to my request.
INTERVIEW WITH GREENLANTERN EXCELSIOR
Prokofy Neva: Can you start by saying in your own words in a line or two what you believe to be the JLU and its mission, your role in it, and what you believe to be the Wrong Hands and its mission. Who is behind the Wrong Hands?
GreenLantern Excelsior: The Justice League Unlimited (JLU) provides mentoring to new residents, patrols unprotected Linden land and any private sims where we are invited, educates sim owners about security, and supports charity events. I am a JLU officer. My primary role is as a patrol and anti-griefer specialist, and I also enjoy helping new residents as a Mentor. The group The Wrong Hands (TWH) was formed to steal and publish the contents of JLU's wiki. The founder is JimK Korpov, and the original members (all banned or suspended) were Cam Mitchell, Doctor Yootz, Haruhi Thespian, Information Core, Mullet Handsohn, Robble Rubble, and Tux Winkler.
The group The Wrong Hands (TWH) was formed to steal and publish the contents of JLU's wiki. Their objective was achieved on January 10, 2010. They used a JLU applicant named Haruhi Thespian who, when given login information, copied the wiki and gave the contents to TWH, who published it. These days, the group appears to be dedicated to trolling JLU. It has a website that's perpetually under development, linked from Tux Winkler's website.
The original members of TWH are all either banned or suspended now. Subsequent members were Code Slacker (banned), Codizzo Resident, Discostar Resident (deleted), geee spot, HogLogs Longspring (banned), Irate Resident (banned), kutchacokoff Resident (banned), Mullet Resident (banned), Pixeleen Mistral, Theta Darkward, VaginalSnot Bubble (banned), Xyz Wyx, and Zax Zero (left the group).
Prokofy Neva: It seems that this latest round of the Wrong Hands scandal began with the Lindens' closure of the sims Revolution and Red Square and the permabanning of Tizzers' alt involved in those sims, Intlibber Brautigan, whose alt was Overbrain Unplugged, and others. That sequence of event tends to get overlooked. What is your understanding of why these sims were closed? What triggered these events in July?
GreenLantern Excelsior: No one seems to know why Red Square and Revolution were deleted, but they were gone on July 19. At around that time, so were Atlas Saintlouis, Overbrain Unplugged, Rembrandt Flux, and Twinkie Swizzle [evidently the Tizzers alt--PN]. Rembrandt had hired Overbrain and Twinkie to build the Bronies sims of Bronyville and Derpy, which may be why those two sims were removed also.
Prokofy Neva: What was the name of Tizzers' alt on that project? Why did the Lindens allow yet another very thinly-disguised version of the Woodbury gang into SL again in the first place? Why was Ryokashi allowed back into SL after being banned?
GreenLantern Excelsior: Twinkie Swizzle, an alt of Tizzers, was the founder of the Bronies group (a My Little Pony fan club) and was also peripherally involved with TWH. Twinkie's account was removed on July 18. I don't know why LL can't keep the Woodbury members out of SL, but Woodbury does seem to be able to return at will, and they can't seem to stay in SL for very long without violating the Terms of Service. As I understand it, Ryokashi was suspended for age verification, and was having trouble producing the requested documentation. He finally came up with a birth certificate or something, so LL let him come back. I've been told that the only residents who were permabanned were Overbrain and Twinkie, and the rest are just suspended.
Prokofy Neva: Do you believe that the saga incited now on Sluniverse.com in the thread about the JLU's IP tracking to be an effort to distract the public from the wrongdoing of these Woodbury/PN griefers and Wrong Hands itself? Do you believe that the hacking into the JLU data base called "Brainiac" and disclosure on various websites is in fact the main crime here and should be the main focus of the Lindens or even RL law-enforcers?
GreenLantern Excelsior: I believe that the IP tracking issue on SLU was started by TWH to harass and troll JLU. The thread started out with a list of names and IP addresses that were said to come from JLU, but really came from another group of banned users who had been collecting that information. I believe the purpose of the thread was to get JLU removed from SL so the griefers and TWH can do whatever they want without worrying about organized opposition. So maybe the goal is not distraction from wrongdoing, but removing obstacles to wrongdoing. If it were my server being attacked, I would consider going to law enforcement with all the information I had.
Although a major focus of the SLU thread is how JLU used to keep private information in a password-protected wiki, not much is said about how that private information has been published in several places on the Internet by the hackers for everyone to see. If it's illegal to keep the information in private, it must be illegal to post it in public. Some of the SLU folks maintain that posting people's private information online after it's stolen from the wiki is a form of whistleblowing. I believe that is nothing but misdirection. The "whistleblowers" are just doxing each other like a circular firing squad.
Apparently the public revelation of real life information from the private JLU wiki has caused some problems. Pixeleen Mistral posted this on TheListSL's blog yesterday: "Thelistsl, can you please remove all your posts regarding rl info. Our site has gotten many reports for hosting the link to the thelistsl.blogspot.com."
Prokofy Neva: What was the relationship of Tux Winkler to these sims and to Woodbury/b-tards or related griefing groups? You say that Tux Winkler may have been banned for IP tracking? Why would Tux Winkler be operating any kind of tracking scripts? For what organization? Kalel Venkman is quoted as saying that Tux "arranged" the hacking. Is this a significant change in his allegation, and if so, who did the actual hacking?
GreenLanter Excelsior: I was told that Tux was not one of the major players in Red Square, Revolution, or Woodbury. Supposedly he and his friends just stayed in those Soviet sims to have fun. I only visited there a couple of times, and they didn't tell me their secrets, so I don't know the real answer.
Tux did maintain an extensive spyware network in Second Life, with tracking objects in many sims, placed there by several accomplices. I haven't heard that it was done as part of any organization. The objects may not have tracked IP addresses, just the locations of certain residents who were on his list. At one time, there were 26 sims containing probes, 9 sims where the probes had been removed, and 26 other sims that were shown on the website's tracking page. The information about who was online and where they were located was fed to Tux's website and displayed on a public page. It is my understanding that a Linden read an article about the spyware network on the Krypton Radio website , tested the items, and referred the matter to the governance team, at which point Tux lost his account. I have not heard that Tux was involved in the hacking of the JLU wiki. No one knows who did that.
Prokofy Neva: Why was Atlas Saintlouis also banned, when ostensibly he was just a mafia overlord running the sims and not directly related to Woodbury/etc? How much is he involved in griefing?
GreenLantern Excelsior: I don't know much about Atlas, other than his inworld character is an angry JLU opponent who enjoys using me as a verbal punching bag to take out his frustrations. He is said to be a former member of the Nicholas Mafia, and owner or financier of the former Red Square and Revolution sims.
Prokofy Neva: What is your own description of the JLU's Brainiac? Are you in fact maintaining a data base on SL residents that you have documented as griefing, or who you believe to commit acts of griefing? How do you yourself justify both IP tracking, alt-linking and any other gathering of data on SL residents?
GreenLantern Excelsior: Brainiac is a JLU database that associates resident names with reports written about them by JLU members. Reports can be entered and retrieved only from inworld. Most of those reports are about griefing events. The Brainiac wiki is a website containing articles about many different aspects of Second Life, including certain residents and groups. It can be accessed only from the Internet.
In my opinion, IP tracking, although allowed by LL is not useful, since IP addresses can be shared by different people. I think IP tracking should be avoided, because it crosses the line between SL and RL. I was in favor of alt detection when it was "legal," because if it were done accurately and used with confidentiality, it could slow or end the pattern of griefer harassment that some parcel owners have had to endure. Not everyone agreed, and some folks considered it an invasion of privacy, even though they were broadcasting their IP addresses every time they listened to a music stream in SL. The issue is academic now, because LL has made revealing alts in SL a ToS violation. As for gathering other data, as long as RL and SL are separate, I see nothing wrong with it. SL has even provided a way to keep your own personal notes in an avatar's profile, which is a LL-approved method of gathering data that only you can see.
Prokofy Neva: Do you include real-life information in this data base? Does this information contain medical information, information on employment, families, etc.? Is it maintained on a third-party website? How does it physically connect to Second Life?
GreenLantern Excelsior: RL information is not included in the Brainiac database or in the Brainiac wiki. The Brainiac database is accessible only from SL, and the Brainiac wiki is accessible only from the Internet. There is no connection between the wiki and Second Life.
Prokofy Neva: Do you believe that inworld griefing is justification for attempting to get the RL information of any individual in SL? Why don't you just leave it to the Lindens to handle abuse reports themselves? Do you see any civil rights implications related to this kind of spying on people? Or do you think its a necessity given the rampant griefing in SL? You have been widely quoted as defending McCarthy in that his methods were wrong but his cause was justified -- could you elaborate on what exactly your position is?
GreenLantern Excelsior: The original idea behind collecting RL information was that we could point out the bad guys to law enforcement authorities in case that was needed. Over time, I believe that members "caught the fever" to do research and find out more about Second Life residents, so other personal information was included in the wiki that had nothing to do with helping the authorities identify griefers. My personal opinion is that no one needs to gather RL information on SL residents. LL will contact law enforcement if there is criminal behavior in SL, and law enforcement will identify the perpetrators. I see no violations of civil rights or personal privacy, though, since the RL information was all available on the Internet through a simple Google search, or had been supplied to JLU members by the people involved. Currently there is no RL information contained in JLU's wiki. It's deleted, all gone, won't be back.
The world was a very different place in the late 40s and early 50s. The Soviet Union was engulfing eastern Europe, and China had become a Communist country. The threat of Communism was on everyone's minds in those days. Senator Joe McCarthy had evidence about Communist infiltrators in the US government, and his speeches on that subject caused a huge media response and resulted in Senate hearings. The final Senate report, written by Democrats, said that McCarthy's charges were "a fraud and a hoax," while Senate Republicans called the report a "brazen whitewash of treasonable conspiracy." McCarthy's strident style and frequent accusations irritated Democrats and the news media, and he was vilified in the press. McCarthy's tactics could never be implemented today, and viewed through the eyes of 21st century Americans, he was a "fearmonger." But the truth is that McCarthy was right. The US government had been monitoring communications between the Soviet Union and people in the US, and it turned out that there were Soviet spies in the US government, as McCarthy had alleged. McCarthy's reputation and career were destroyed by the liberal news media, and these days "everybody knows" he was a bad guy. He also happens to have been right.
Prokofy Neva: There's some speculation that Phantom Zone isn't really tracking IPs, or at least not to match with alts, or that this task is sent to some other foil that is doing this, i.e. SL Police Department. What's really going on here? What is the relationship of Green Zone to Phantom Zone?
GreenLantern Excelsior: Phantom Zone never did collect IP addresses. At one time, JLU considered working with the group **Police Department** (PD), who had a database of alts. There were prototype information retrieval devices that would show any articles written about the resident in question, and a list of "possible alts." Neither group programmed their security devices to automatically eject or ban residents due to this alt correlation. The response was planned to be an information display to show that two residents shared an IP address. Because the IP detection method produced too many false positives, JLU never implemented alt detection. The PD is no longer collecting and storing IP addresses. As for Green Zone, I know nothing about it other than some peripheral information about its purpose. As far as I know, it has no relation to Phantom Zone.
Prokofy Neva: There are about a dozen very active complainers on this Sluniverse.com thread. What is their relationship to the Wrong Hands, why are they complaining, and do you believe them to be in fact just griefers covering their tracks? Have you now made this a hit list or an enemy list of these people as they claim, and do you plan to take this further?
GreenLantern Excelsior: I reviewed 15 pages and counted 28 members in that thread who were vehemently anti-JLU. Nine of them could not be found in Search, and I know for a fact that four of those are either suspended or permabanned. Those four, along with one other who is not banned, were or are TWH members. The thread started with a false allegation that a list of resident names and IP addresses came from JLU's Phantom Zone. That was the original complaint, but once we proved that Phantom Zone was not the source of the list, the complainers dismissed that and said that they had moved on to other complaints, mostly associated with JLU storing RL information in our password protected wiki. I don't know all of the complainers, and although I know some of them are griefers, I can't say they all fit that description. JLU has not added their names to any kind of list, and I know of no action that will be taken as a result of the thread.
Prokofy Neva: The meeting that a JLU member purported to have with Pete Linden and then leaked, which was published in Herald comments, seems to indicate a changed attitude of the Lindens to the JLU. Do you in fact believe that the Lindens once endorsed you, and in fact valued your vigilante work? Do you have reason to believe now that the Lindens will cut ties with you, if they had them in the first place? Why? Is this part of a new anti-griefing methodology or system that CEO Rod Linden is putting into place?
GreenLantern Excelsior: First, please don't call us vigilantes. JLU is a Neighborhood Watch in Second Life. All we do is observe and report. Linden Lab takes any enforcement action that's necessary.
It's hard to say what the Lindens are thinking. I don't believe they ever "endorsed" anyone but the former Second Life Mentors group. We used to chat with a few of the Lindens now and then, but I think these days they are mostly too busy to get into long conversations. I recall a couple of years ago, after a Linden had worked hard to clean up some replicating cubes in the sandboxes, he dropped down to ground level for a while and we all made it a point to thank him. He thanked us for writing the Abuse Reports,and said that they would have more time to fix things like that if they didn't have to respond to so many personal arguments between residents. I've never been able to determine whether the Lindens recognize Abuse Reports from individual residents.
I don't believe that leaking the conversation with Pete Linden will help or hurt our relationship with LL. People have private conversations with Lindens all the time, so this is nothing new. It doesn't mean that JLU has some sort of special favors bestowed upon us. I'm sure that if we have legitimate information to convey in the future, the Lindens will listen to us just the same as they would listen to any other resident or group.
Prokofy Neva: It seems you have responded to a request from Joshua Nightshade to remove the entry about him in the Brainiac by deleting a page. Why was Joshua Nightshade in this database in the first place? He is not known to be an inworld griefer, although he has a history of stalking and harassing people on forums. Are you now going to enable anyone to request to be removed from your database? If so, doesn't that constitute an admission on your part that you were not engaging in ethical activity?
GreenLantern Excelsior: Joshua Nightshade's page was removed from the Brainiac wiki, as was all other personal information. The reason it was there in the first place is that he forwarded some emails between him and the PN to a JLU member, who then created a page about Joshua and placed the email text there. The first time I heard it was gone was when Joshua posted about it on SLU. I don't know the JLU policy (if there is one) about removing people's pages from the wiki. I suspect that anyone wanting to know what's on their wiki page or wanting their page deleted will get a statement similar to "I can neither confirm nor deny that you have a page in the JLU wiki."
Prokofy Neva: There's been a claim that Cummere Mayo has initiated some kind of law-enforcement inquiry about the JLU and Wrong Hands. Have you heard from any law-enforcers regarding this matter? Is it true as claimed that JLU leaders are in touch with the CIA or FBI or Scotland Yard? Do you contact law-enforcers in RL with information you have gathered about alleged griefers in SL?
GreenLantern Excelsior: Cummere Mayo has made many claims in that thread, but as far as I know, making claims is all that's happened. No law enforcement officers have visited JLU members at home, and the JLU wiki is still online. There has been some talk in the past about JLU making contact with different law enforcement agencies, but I don't know the current status.
Prokofy Neva: Why aren't you or other JLU members answering any of the charges and complaints on Sluniverse.com or any other site?
GreenLantern Excelsior: I posted many times in that SL Universe thread until I was suspended for "posting links to RL info" (I had posted a link to Deadly Codec's obituary, which revealed his real name, so it was real life info about someone who is no longer present in real life, which is a weak reason for a suspension). I have also been posting in the recent Alphaville Herald story that has my name in the title, and in another discussion thread on the Second Citizen board. Other JLU members have been participating in other discussions, notably Hewee Zetkin and ZenMondo Wormser. In my opinion, the reason we don't have more members talking in the discussion groups could be a mindset that "if we just ignore it, it will go away." To a certain extent, this is true. When the information releases taper off and JLU members haven't posted for a while in the SLU thread, the members there get distracted by shiny objects and lolcats and they rapidly lose focus on their objective. Now that the leaks are plugged and no more information will be released, that thread should grind to a halt in short order. I'm a big advocate of opposing public rumors and accusations, but I realize that not everyone enjoys arguing on the Internet, so I don't get upset when the rest of the members don't come charging into battle.
Prokofy Neva: Tux Winkler has a signature quote on Sluniverse.com that claims that Soft Linden was involved in his banning and told others about it. Is this true?
GreenLantern Excelsior: Soft Linden investigated a JLU report about spyware objects that were tracking residents on the grid. Later, he followed up with JLU to inform us that those responsible for the objects had been banned, and the objects had been removed. He didn't tell us any resident names who had been banned. Since most of the residents being tracked by the objects were JLU members, I believe it was nothing more than a courtesy notification. We found out later that Tux Winkler was gone from the grid.
Prokofy Neva: On Sluniverse.com, people are reporting that members of the JLU are leaving, ostensibly because they don't wish to remain in your organization, given these practices involving harvesting IP data and maintaining files on people with SL and RL information. Is this the case?
GreenLantern Excelsior: Two JLU members did resign recently. Tux posted in the SLU thread when he noticed the membership number had decreased. I didn't speak to the members about it, so I can't say exactly why they left. However, I don't believe they resigned due to any perceived ethical violations.
Prokofy Neva: Add anything more if you have any further comments.
GreenLantern Excelsior: Thank you for the interview. I want to insert a disclaimer here. I am not the official spokesman for any of the groups I've mentioned here, and any statements I've made are my personal opinions, not the official position of those groups. Any information I've discussed here has already been revealed elsewhere, so my part in the discussion has been to correlate the various pieces of information into something that makes sense. The official JLU position on the matter has been posted recently at Truth and Lies - the League Response.