Second Life is a virtual world, where users control an "avatar" to explore and communicate with others. Because of the freedom and lawlessness that this world offers, it is becoming a haven for illegal activities. Terrorist organizations are embracing these worlds, for basic training, planning, simulations, and transfer of funds. Here is an interesting article from the Washington Post, discussing how Second Life is becoming a cyber battlefield, for both the intelligence community and terrorists.
Mr. O'Harrow of the Washington Post presents many new concerns that these virtual worlds create. Can we monitor a virtual world? What rights does the government have regarding search and seizure in a virtual world. As businesses and organizations are moving meetings and transactions to the virtual realm, what laws, if any, apply to them?
These virtual worlds have many avenues to communicate secretly, hold private meetings, and transfer finances. The CIA even uses several islands in an internal virtual world to hold unclassified meetings and basic training scenarios. Terrorists can also embrace these ideas to communicate, recruit, and train - even transfer finances in an almost untraceable manner.
While the extent of the threat to national security that Second Life may present can be debated, it is safe to say that the government and the intelligence community needs to take a extensive look at the virtual realm.