[image courtesy KOMO news]
So yet another high-profile game development fell victim to "swatting
", the [sarcasm
] of calling the police on an individual usually with fake bomb, gun or other immediate-danger threats to initiate an emergency response, usually armed - "cops surround home of video game exec after high-tech hoax
". Thankfully police are generally level-headed when dealing with these calls so no-one has as yet been hurt or worse, killed - the police don't know the threat call is a prank so anyone at the receiving end is in real and immediate danger depending on their reaction to the sudden and unexpected arrival of armed individuals on their door-step (sadly there are far too many examples of accidental deaths resulting from the armed response of the police
The perpetrators are rarely caught because calls are typically made anonymously, usually from a payphone, so whilst the phone number can be traced to a general location (and the actual box used) because they are public locations, unless each has a camera recording 24/7, it's unlikely to go any further than that (although depending on the location, call times can be cross-referenced with CCTV in the area, assuming it exists).
And this highlights a broader problem. Just how does society go about catching these people without infringing some pretty basic freedoms. Would it be OK to place (hidden) cameras on all payphones. Or cameras on-top of lamp-posts/light-poles to monitor daily life 24/7. Tying these types of indecent to general issues of high-profile online and/or game related harassment
, would having Internet ID (SOPA
, or other legislation to which 'terrorism', 'harassment, laws can be attached
, et-al) be a means to make people feel safe ("feel" as in 'seem', 'appear'). Probably not. But that won't stop some very loud voices making that call based on the actions of a few; the idiots pulling these pranks for the lolz are basically giving them the rationale to do just that, so if we want to keep the Internet freely available for everyone, maybe it time its users step up to the plate.