The Scenario: A secret state program tracking weed-lovers’ whereabouts

by Berit Anderson – April 9, 2014

The Scenario, a networking series and roleplaying game, takes real global affairs and current events happening around the world, transplants them to the Northwest and lets you call the shots. Here’s the scenario:

The state government is surveilling the movements of heavy marijuana users in Washington state, according to memos sent to Crosscut and The Seattle Globalist by Tedward Bowden, the disgruntled former employee of a Seattle-area cloud computing giant.

140410-tedwardbowdenThe memos outline a state project called StonerNet, intended to keep illegal shipments of marijuana from crossing state borders into Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia.

According to the memos, StonerNet officials obtained lists of moderate to heavy marijuana purchasers from state-licensed retail outlets, then matched users’ names with their license plate numbers, which they distributed to state vehicle emissions test centers.

Allegedly, when a vehicle with a matching license plate number arrived at a state vehicle emissions test center, employees surreptitiously placed a tracking device on the underside of the vehicle, which state law enforcement used to identify frequent travelers across state borders.

Bowden, a cloud-services security analyst and ardent libertarian, discovered memos about the project while performing routine security updates for his employer.

He said he made several copies of the files before quitting his job and traveling across the border to a remote cabin in an undisclosed location in British Columbia. It was then that he contacted Crosscut and Globalist editors with encrypted copies of the memos.

“I just couldn’t let this kind of security state run rampant without doing anything,” he told Crosscut and Globalist editors during a video call. “I want to raise kids here and have a life without having to worry about these awful, Big Brother narcs.”

Bowden’s girlfriend, a professional ballet dancer and former swimsuit model, claimed she was unaware of Bowden’s whereabouts and had no knowledge of his discovery.

“My heart is broken, just broken,” she told editors, when contacted at her Bellevue apartment last week. “Tedward and I had talked about making a life together. About trading in our highrise apartment and weekend clubbing in Belltown for a house on the banks of Lake Washington; about sending our kids to Lakeside and joining Rotary. I was going to be in the Junior League! And now he’s just up and disappeared?”

What happens next? You decide. 

Join Crosscut, the World Affairs Council, Seattle Globalist and Impact Hub Seattle on Wednesday, April 23rd at 6 p.m. for a happy hour roleplaying game to act out the implications of Tedward Bowden’s security leak. Attendees will be split into stakeholder teams, which must work together to craft the best response to the situation.

The Scenario, which is sponsored by Hilliards Beer, will take place in Impact Hub Seattle’s main event space. Prizes and props will be provided. BYO-ingenuity and problem-solving skills.

Register online »

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