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  • Philip Teoli aka Corporate Gamer

Swatting, Why is this a thing?


Introduction

If you are a gamer, I am sure that you have heard the term Swatting. For those who do not know what this is, the official definition is the following:


From Google


The action or practice of making a prank call to emergency services in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of armed police officers to a particular address.


This did not start yesterday. This was a thing as far back as in the 1970's. People would call emergency services when in reality there was no issue. These were considered prank calls back in the day.


In recent years, there has been a spike in streaming services like Twitch, Facebook Live, and Mixer, These services allow a player to broadcast their video games while chatting with friends or fans. There have been numerous compilations on YouTube where players are streaming on Twitch and they get swatted. It seems that it has grown in popularity in recent years.


So what does it mean exactly. Players will be playing a multiplayer game such as Call of Duty. One of their adversaries obtains one of the players address. With this information, they call emergency services and police and fake a situation where the player being swatted did something really bad or is about to. Then as per protocol, the police and SWAT teams go to the person's house and take down the player unknowingly.


Discussion


From the above explanation you can see why there is concern here. Innocent people are being raided on by police. In addition, resources are being incorrectly used and someone that actually would need the help may not get it because of these services.


Everyone that is a gamer pretty much knew that this would lead to something happening where someone would get injured or could or even worse, lose a life. Well that is exactly what happened in Wichita, Kansas in December 2017. A player was being swatted and law enforcement shot the victim. There have been arrests made but it is already too late, someone has been killed. According to various articles, all this started with a bet of 1.50$ USD. So basically a small bet, got an innocent person killed. That is just wrong.


Why is this is thing as the title suggests? Well this is for pure entertainment. That is all that I can think of. These are bored people that have nothing better to do then to create havoc for another human being. I can understand being pissed after a game. However, I cannot fathom being so pissed after a game that I would want to raid their house or kill the person. If you get to that point, you either have a gaming addiction or there are other mental health issues at play here.


Some have proposed that the laws should be changed in order to accommodate for these situations. Others say that the laws in place are just fine but we have to be more vigilant.


According to Wikipedia, there are measures that have been put in place in both Canada and the United States to combat this trend.


In Canada swatting can be prosecuted for:

  • Uttering death threats

  • Conveying false information with intent to alarm, public mischief

  • Mischief to property

In the United States swatting can be prosecuted through federal criminal statutes:

  • "Conspiracy to retaliate against a witness, victim or informant"

  • "Conspiracy to commit access device fraud and unauthorized access of a protected computer"

  • An accomplice may be found guilty of "conspiring to obstruct justice"

  • In California, pranksters bear the "full cost" of the response which can range up to $10,000


Conclusion


I have listened to arguments on both sides of the fence. I have heard the point of view of those who think that these are only a few bad apples but in general this is just fun. I have also listened to the other side of the coin where people want this to stop.


I am with the latter. I think personally we need to stop this as this benefits no one at all. Even if this is for fun, it is not fun when critical resources are used for a non critical event. There is the potential of being hurt. Why would anyone want this? Life is not a Jerry Springer show or Cops. These are real life situations and by doing this, they are putting lives in danger.


I think that Swatters, should be punished and not just have a slap on the wrist for their actions. I think fines are not enough. Jail time should be mandatory if someone is guilty of this crime.


Worst of all, this puts gamers in the spotlight for the wrong reasons once again. Most players are awesome but because of a few rotten apples, we must pay the price for stupidity. My honest opinion is that the entertainment value is not worth the harm that it can do. The pros do not outweigh the cons.


What do you think? Do you like watching swatting events on YouTube? let me know below.


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