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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Politics: Could Big Brother Be Watching You?- Mackenzie Abbot Reporting...


In everyday life, politics shapes our world.  From how high the curb must be to how much taxes you pay. Someone, somewhere, makes the laws of the land.  

There's no getting away from politics.  Turn on your television or open any newspaper and you will see some member of government talking about the hot topic of the day, or defending the latest proposition to change the law.  Every government in every country control banks, the economy, the various security forces and make sure that everyday life is peaceful and fair for all.  But this is Second Life.  We come here to get away from day-to-day troubles and cast aside who we really are.  We live, love, fight, dance and just be who we want to be; carefree and happy to do exactly what we want in our ideal, alternate life.

So, what if Second Life decided to introduce an elected or unelected government to watch over us and mimic real life?  We all secretly know that Linden Labs already have the ability to check our accounts and details without our knowledge at any time and without warning.  We take that as read and just accept it.  But would we be so open to the idea of fellow players, elected or not, having the same privileges?  Do we really need a government, or would a live admin team or police force be sufficient?

Anna, a nightclub dancer in Zoxen, believes it could be a good thing.

"It's something I've never really thought about before, but I believe it could be good thing to have some sort of authoritarian organisation, such as an admin team or security force, to deal with spammers and griefers as they happen.  The current system of submitting reports takes way to long to be dealt with and often doesn't see a suitable conclusion.  Personally i never had this kind of problems, it's not like they can hurt me, but yes, of course, it would be nice to have some help."

However, when asked if she would be comfortable with someone being able to watch her without her knowledge or be able to see her private messages at anytime, her opinion shifted a little.

"It's not the sort of thing I would be happy with.  I know its a virtual world but we still need privacy"

"Zoe" (not her real name) agrees.

"In my view...I wouldn't want to see that.  If i wanted it to be like real life, I wouldn't come here."

I seemed to have touched a nerve with Zoe, as she became very animated and vocal about the prospect of being spied on or checked by anyone.

"A goverment would be for all SL and serial griefers and spammers would get a permanent ban from Second Life, or a temporary one.  Officers can only ban them from one place or the sim where they work.  People  should  get a second  chance but if they continue then block them from using Second Life by their IP address"

At this point I reminded her about ways to get round the IP blocking, of which she was unaware.

"There has to be a way, but i don't think a government would be able to block the idiots at Second Life level.  Unless they had access to server side details and computer ID's"

However, the subject of accessing peoples computer ID's, itself, could be subject to real world politics.  Would causing upset and annoyance to other players in a "game" be seen in the eyes of the law as part of internet life and, possibly, not that great a problem?  Or would it fall under various Malicious Communications acts around the world?  Linden Labs do state in their Terms of Service (section 10, subsection 1) that "Linden Lab is NOT liable for its users' actions...".  However, in Section 8, subsection 3, paragraph 4, it states "(you agree you will not) Engage in malicious or disruptive conduct that impedes or interferes with other user's normal use of the Service".

So is the current system of self-reporting via support tickets, live chat and abuse reports enough to keep everyone happy?  Without asking every single resident, it's hard to say.  But privacy seems to be a major sticking point for dealing with those who seek to disrupt the status quo of Second Life.  Can we truly expect privacy and harmony to work hand in hand? Probably not.

This may be a question for your local elected representative...


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