The Linden Lab Shell Game

by Pixeleen Mistral on 10/05/07 at 11:55 pm

Why is so hard to tell the truth?

by Onder Skall

Originally we were told that this age verification system was put in place to prevent underage individuals from accessing the mature content. Despite the fact that the entire grid is supposed to be only accessible by people 18 years of age or older, the process would be optional. That was the first conflicting message.

Adult content on the web was around long before Second Life, as were forums where people exchanged mature content. None of these ever used a method of verification beyond the existing “show your credit card or Paypal and click this to verify”.

This left us all with several questions:

1. Since this process is supposed to be just for age verification, and it’s optional, does that mean that we are closing the Teen grid?
2. Why ask for even more information, much of it of an extremely sensitive nature, when it’s not an industry-standard thing to do?
3. Why do this now, right after the big push for grid stability, while we’re all still left with unanswered questions about that?
4. Why is a third party going to be used for this?
5. Why simultaneously introduce a controversial policy of claiming that all land owners are responsible for activites that others perform on their land? Isn’t it a parent’s job to ensure that minors don’t access mature content? Isn’t that why existing industry standards for verification have taken the form that they have?
6. Why bother if the situation with unverifieds remains unchanged except for some minor geographical inconveniences? Minors can still alt-zoom into sensitive areas, engage in illegal activites, grief, etc…

These questions remained unanswered in the blog and unasked by the “won’t somebody please think of the children” crowd. We were forced to do our own investigations and posit our own theories.

Eventually we discovered that the company in question – Integrity Services – had a dubious history and some bad connections. Our best guess as to why all this is happening: a combination of political pressure from Germany’s hype machines and Washington’s security-for-profit fetishism is intimidating the Lindens. They were folding like a deck chair, most likely having been told that they could be held responsible for all sorts of nasty things the world over.

Now, in the latest twist, Reuters is reporting that Linden Lab hasn’t actually secured a verification provider. Aristotle, who handles the contracts for Integrity, made the declaration that there is no contract and may never be a contract.

“There is a productive discussion in place between Linden and Aristotle,” Colopy added. “But in my experience, less than one in five productive discussions turn into contracts. There is no rational basis to assume a deal is going forwards.”

In comments on the official blog Jeska Linden confirms that Integrity is the chosen company, and yet there’s no mention of them anywhere on the blog. Was it there in the first place?

Yes, it was.

In the cached version of the blog post “More on Identity Verification”, Daniel Linden clearly states:

“Our verification provider, Integrity Services, will only use information to provide a match code.”

See that same post now, and the text has been altered to read:

“Our verification provider will only use information to provide a match code.”

So now we’re left to ask ourselves several other questions:

1. Did our investigations change the Linden’s mind about which provider to use, or is this more of a contract negotiation issue?
2.Why attempt to re-write history? Why not just come out and say “oops, we haven’t decided on a service provider yet”? [maybe the Tao of the Lindens is at work? -Editrix]
3.Tao Takashi reports on his blog (via NWN) that Robin and Daniel Linden made a point of stating that Aristotle and Integrity are very separate. They do this despite Integrity stating that Aristotle arranges all of it’s contracts in the Reuters article, so obviously the Lindens are in meetings with Aristotle, not Integrity. Why are we covering for them?
4. Daniel Linden is quoted as saying “Integrity Services is our chosen provider” in the Reuters article. What is it about Integrity that makes it so important to Daniel that they are the chosen provider? Aristotle themselves don’t seem overly optimistic about the idea.
5. Linden Lab is obviously being pressured to police the grid, which may mean they could be pressured into releasing anyone’s personal info. What kind of iron-clad assurances are we given that our information isn’t stored?
6. Why pop this on the public so suddenly instead of at least giving the appearance of asking for the community’s opinion on something so intrusive? Has anybody ever publicly suggested such drastic actions? Why all the secrecy? Why treat transparency on this issue as such a dirty term?
7. Is there anything to prevent grief-flagging? How long will the Shelter be available to new residents?

First they distract us from the grid stability issue for the age verification issue, they slip in a rider in among the rest of the controversy that land owners are responsible for everything, then they swap one blog post out for another, and now we don’t even know for certain who it is that will be handling all of this sensitive information or how trustworthy they really are. Things have gone from bad to worse around here.

Oh, and King Philip Linden has yet to weigh in on any of these issues – maybe he needs a clue? Is there a fanboy in the house that can help out? Please pitch in and help the Lindens think of new excuses – we might as well have some fun with this…

29 Responses to “The Linden Lab Shell Game”

  1. JimBean

    May 11th, 2007

    second life has three kinds of people. when a glass contains 50% water and 50% air, these three can be heard saying:

    1. the glass is half full.

    2. the glass is half empty.


  2. Miraren Firefly

    May 11th, 2007

    Too true, Jim.

    The Lindens fuck up a lot, but they fuck up a lot less than most companies of equal or larger size would attempting – and achieving – success in such uncharted territory. True, environments such as Active Worlds and TSO accompany SL in its genre, but absolutely nobody has tried to take it to the level that SL has and even remotely succeeded. LL are really out there on their own, and they’re doing their best, so give them some slack.

    That being said, it does make me a tad nervous how eager they are to infringe upon the rights of ageplayers. It’s gotten to the point where friends tell me they’re nervous to even walk around in a child avatar due to how strict the rules have become.

  3. Miraren Firefly

    May 11th, 2007

    Too true, Jim.

    The Lindens fuck up a lot, but they fuck up a lot less than most companies of equal or larger size would attempting – and achieving – success in such uncharted territory. True, environments such as Active Worlds and TSO accompany SL in its genre, but absolutely nobody has tried to take it to the level that SL has and even remotely succeeded. LL are really out there on their own, and they’re doing their best, so give them some slack.

    That being said, it does make me a tad nervous how eager they are to infringe upon the rights of ageplayers. It’s gotten to the point where friends tell me they’re nervous to even walk around in a child avatar due to how strict the rules have become.

  4. Luth Brodie

    May 11th, 2007

    1. Don’t think it’s an end to the teen grid, but more of a testing the waters for a possible merge.
    2. Everyone knows that a CC is useless to prove age, but SS is asking far too much.
    3. Misdirection. If we are too busy complaining about creative freedom and RL privacy then maybe we’ll forget about not being able to tp to the strip club without all attachments stuck to our ass.
    4. LL assumes no responsibility for anything, why would they start now?
    5. LL doesn’t want to be held responsible so they are passing on the buck to the landowners. Technically it’s the parent’s job, but the “what about the children” crowd doesn’t care what the parents do its us sick deviants who should take care of them.
    6. Yeah well… when has LL ever done anything logical?

  5. Osiris Goff

    May 11th, 2007

    I have spend considerable time and money in SL, building a huge Metaphysical Library and Conference center in the mainland that I am very proud of. I currently have it blocked with a huge protest over this AVS issue because it is so disingenuous. As of May 21, if Linden doesn’t abandon this BS and come clean with the citizens that support them, I will be abandoning all my holdings, shutting down my account and leaving SL until such time the current regime owns up to what is really going on and returns to the policies that made SL the best social network in cyberspace. This move will cost me dearly, but I have to stick to principle.

    Right now they are ruining it and I for one, will not participate.

    Put your Lindens where your mouth is..

  6. Anon

    May 11th, 2007

    JimBean’s trying to look smart by calling everybody but himself stupid. Wow. Never seen that done before. Zzzzzzzzz

  7. Feltch Santorum

    May 11th, 2007

    Here’s the thing that nobody’s really mentioning…

    By verifying that you are using this service for the sole purpose of obtaining access to hard-core sexually explicit material, you are giving your personal information to a politically affiliated organization and LABELING YOURSELF A SEXUAL DEVIANT.

    Will they spam you with ads for viagra? Or will they turn the info over to your local police or self-interest group?

    Anything you say can and will be held against you.

  8. shockwave yareach

    May 11th, 2007

    It sounds to me thus far, that LL’s right hand doesn’t know what its left hand is doing. This is more a case of someone trying to get data out too soon and screwing it up. This actually is a good thing because it automatically calls into question all the other details, such as what will be needed and what’s going to happen. We are now at square two. We know an age verification process is going to be introduced, yes. But every other detail is in flux right now.

    You know, I’ve wondered about the whole German TV finds child porn bit. How were they in the room? Who took them there? And why would anyone bother with uploading such into SL, knowing that people can’t download it back down again? Is it possible that this TV reporter is one of the naked AVs, and that the reporter uploaded the child porn himself? It would sure explain how easily the reporter found all that – he just used a bit of machinma and created a story instead of finding one. This also means that the reporter commited the crime of uploading the images, which is probably the reason why the reporter won’t tell LL where he found it or who it belonged to. Not a good career move to put yourself in a German jail for child porn, after all.

    The more time that passes, the more this whole thing smells like a setup.

  9. Nicholaz Beresford

    May 11th, 2007

    Shockwave, those things have been on SL before. Last time I heard of them it was an ageplay escort who had put a bunch of RL (or was it Hentai?) photos on the wall of her playroom.

    And really, I think you don’t need much of a setup there.

    That TV production which “uncovered” it may be quite tabloid, but if you’re in for a story like this, I’m sure you’ll just need an avatar, get in contact with the ageplay crowd and look around a bit (probably just for ageplay escorts). And what I gather from a news item on Spiegel-Online today, the attourney seems to be having a link (name of a person) but that was only mentioned in reference to “distributing child porn material” (referred to as photos).

  10. Inigo Chamerberlin

    May 11th, 2007

    Nicely reasoned Onder. I too noted the discrepancy between what the Aristotle spokesman told Reuters and what Linden Lab was saying.
    Linden Lab talking ‘done deal’ – Aristotle/Integrity saying ‘Preliminary negotiations have taken place’… Odd indeed.
    Here’s my attempt at answering your final seven ‘questions arising’.

    1 – I suspect the situation may be that Aristotle/Integrity (and they ARE connected, saying otherwise is like claiming there is no connection between say, General Motors and Chevrolet!) entered into negotiations with Linden Lab on the basis of an ‘age verification system’ with the understanding that it was going to be used in a certain way.

    On finding that there were other issues involved, which might well be seen as being connected with the accuracy of their system by others, and bearing in mind the Anheuser-Busch Inc. debacle – their only previous recorded customer for this service – which resulted in admonishing letters from 23 states attorney, Aristotle/Integrity may have considered that a contract with Linden Lab would not be likely to serve them well… Hence the back pedalling.

    2 – Because they (think) they can. Because they are ‘smart and cool’ and the rest of us aren’t – so we won’t notice.

    3 – See the General Motors/Chevrolet comparison above.

    4 – That isn’t likely to emerge. One can only speculate.

    5 – None. The question is – do you trust Linden Lab now?

    6 – I believe the matter was discussed, but only, as seems the current Linden Lab system for consulting with residents of late, with a small select band of trusted residents.

    However, I think the original announcement was triggered by the German media/police investigations. Yes, I KNOW age verification has little to do with controlling the distribution of child porn in Second Life – and that’s the real issue here, NOT age players, or under age residents.

    What we are seeing here is an attempt to distract residents, the media, investors, and RL corporations from the real issue – that having no idea whatsoever of the identity or even location of the bulk of it’s ‘signups’ since 6/6/06, Linden Lab is unable to identify the distributors of such material, in addition it’s left Linden Lab in the position of being unable to find such material on their servers. Something Linden Lab has illustrated amply by: ‘Despite requests, neither ARD nor the Germany authorities have yet disclosed to us the location of the photographic images in question, and we have not been able to independently locate them.’ (Robin Linden).
    It’s not third party investigators responsibility to locate illegal content on Linden Lab’s servers – it’s Linden Lab’s!

    And the dubious Aristotle/Integrity system, linked to the ‘adult land tag’ system will not help that situation one bit.

    Neither will trying to shift responsibility for third party’s illegal acts in Second Life to land ‘owners’.
    That’s not acceptable, either in law or by the loosest standards of responsible business practice.

    Let’s say a child porn trader (and it matters not a bit if they are ‘re-verified’ or not – nor if your land is PG, M or A) puts on a ‘live show’ on your land, maybe even in your home, while you are absent and without your consent? Then, as happened to the German investigator, attempts to interest the attendees in RL child porn and displays samples (on your property remember).
    One of those present is an investigator. Now the way Linden Lab would want it to play out is that when the police or FBI show up, they simply say ‘It happened on resident ‘X’s property – WE have no liability, it’s all resident ‘X’s fault.’ and the problem, for them, goes away. And yours, if the authorities want to see things Linden Lab’s way, are just begining.

    Yeah, right… And how about ensuring you REALLY KNOW who the real culprits are? The real life criminals behind the AVs? ‘Sorry, too hard, not fun, no can do’.

    7 – One of my main objections to the ‘adult land tag’ idea is that people WILL use it as an anti griefer system. The reasoning behind them declaring they intend doing that is impeccable. But the results would be that huge areas of Second Life would become inaccessible to those who, despite being paying adults, refuse to submit further personal information to Linden Lab, or their poorly chosen and unchecked choice of ‘age verification’ provider.

    The Shelter? As long as Travis resists the temptation to switch to ‘Adult’ and so keep the griefers at bay, it stays open to all.

  11. Nicholaz Beresford

    May 11th, 2007

    LL seems to have the most crappy public communication I’ve seen in a long time. I think what pisses off people most (me at least) is that they tend to assume everyone is stupid and say thing that make no common sense at all (like linking verification with that ageplay of two grown ups).

    I think this would be half the trouble if they said, that they’re growing, that it’s necessary, that they have to cover many countries’ laws and that they just are doing it because it is legally necessary, especially with their outlook to the future growth and mass media. That yes, there are privacy issues, yes they are trying to find a reliable solution and partner who has procedures to do this world wide and yes, not everybody will like it. Saying this will come, but we appreciate your input and will try to tie it into the process so please be patient until we figure out how it will work.

    But this “oh, but it’s not mandatory” stuff (knowing quite well where the action and traffic is nowaydays) and “oh, we need to keep minors out” (then make it mandatory for all goddmanit) and “we need to protect people from ageplay” and that general illogical mixup is just as unprofessional as many other things they do and I think that is what is driving people nuts.

  12. shockwave yareach

    May 11th, 2007

    Much like the entire mainland is covered with BanLines now to keep the troublemakers away. I’d rather see the Adult turned on and Banlines off and be able to move around freely than be stuck on the road in a sea of redlines like I am now.

    Of course, if we eliminated the revolving door of unverified alts and not permit people to have disposable AVs, there’d be less call for either solution.

  13. Curious Rousselot

    May 11th, 2007

    Osiris Goff, you said, “As of May 21, if Linden doesn’t abandon this BS and come clean with the citizens that support them, I will be abandoning all my holdings, shutting down my account and leaving SL until such time the current regime owns up to what is really going on and returns to the policies that made SL the best social network in cyberspace.”

    I applaud your effort and hope you succeed in getting what you want but, unless a lot of others join you, I fear you may not have enough of an impact to cause the sort of change you desire.


  14. Nicholaz Beresford

    May 11th, 2007

    >> One of my main objections to the ‘adult land tag’ idea is that people WILL use it as an anti griefer system. The reasoning behind them declaring they intend doing that is impeccable. But the results would be that huge areas of Second Life would become inaccessible to those who, despite being paying adults, refuse to submit further personal information to Linden Lab, or their poorly chosen and unchecked choice of ‘age verification’ provider. <<

    There was the first (or even two) on todays “clarification” blog post already asking for a flag that was non-adult but verifieds-only. Dunno where I read about the unverified’s “slums” today, but that is exactly what I posted as a comment comment in Neko Cyborgs thread before the the comment thread drifted of to Proky-Land.

  15. Hazim Gazov

    May 11th, 2007

    >>Shockwave, those things have been on SL before. Last time I heard of them it was an ageplay escort who had put a bunch of RL (or was it Hentai?) photos on the wall of her playroom.

    Hentai. Perfectly legal in the United States, but to comply with international laws, I think they just banned it outright (or maybe not, I have no idea, I’ve seen underage yaoi around SL, LL doesn’t seem to care about that.). The story was that the character who was the star of the hentai only looked underage, but was actually several thousands of years old. Typical story the translators make up when something gets imported so that it stays legal (18? SHE LOOKS 10!).

  16. Obscure Doodad

    May 11th, 2007

    Well, we’ave all commented before, but new data emerges and it just keeps getting worse.

    1) Yes, you are explicitly applying to be entered into a database of people seeking adult content. In the eyes of the public, given the reputation unfolding for SL, you are applying to gain access to those parts of SL where child porn can be found. Doesn’t matter if that’s true. That’s what the public perception is going to be. What IS true is you are applying to enter a database of seekers of smut. This is not a database where I think anyone who values their RL reputation wants to be.

    2) This is not the current situation. SL has enough non adult content that just being involved in SL does not necessarily smear you. Apply for Age Verification and you lose that cover.

    3) The Integrity report to Reuters is interesting in saying there is no contract. Like all such things, it is about money. LL probably is trying to negotiate a lower price and Integrity is looking at the uproar, and LL’s new reputation for child porn, and saying . . . we’re going to have to be paid much much more to take on these risks and taint ourselves by association with you. So LL sits there looking at the price tag and very carefully announces to us that they have not defined the price to be charged to residents — because they want to pass all that Integrity cost along to residents.
    This is in keeping of the overall approach you see in this whole matter of transferring responsibility to residents and assuming no costs or risks themselves.

    4) Yahoo has adult content, just like LL. Yahoo is a zillion times bigger than LL with a lot more money at risk. Yahoo doesn’t need names, addresses, SSNs or passport numbers to allow access to that content. Yahoo is a content provider, just like LL. LL would love to declare themselves an ISP, but they aren’t. They are a content provider, not a service provider. I don’t know anyone and there is likely no one who “signs up with SL for their access to the internet.” Given that no one does, they are not an ISP.

    5) LL is simply going to have to assume some risks in order to stay in business. The blog comments make it clear that > 50% of residents will not verify. If a similar percentage of SL becomes flagged Adult, the bulk of the user base will relentlessly find themselves with nowhere to go.

    Well, that’s not true. There are plenty of places online to go. They just won’t be SL.

  17. Kurt Loader

    May 11th, 2007

    Oh, Gee, the SLHerald shooting its mouth off again.

    There’s something I haven’t seen before.

  18. Cocoanut Koala

    May 11th, 2007

    I like Inigo’s comments, and I like Obscure’s point about how SL simply is not the portal to the web, and LL can’t shirt responsibility.

    A few comments:

    It should make people a tad nervous how close we came (and I hope I’ve put it in the past tense properly) to becoming completely irrelevant, and nothing but a porno haven, if existing at all.

    All this was narrowly averted by the blog article, judging by the news reports that then started quoting the blog article. And still, damage has been done.

    Now if the right Linden hand doesn’t know what the left Linden hand is doing – and it never does – that isn’t as important to me as that we squeaked by this one.

    LL aren’t using this to misdirect from something else, and they didn’t do anything (at least not directly) in this case.

    Child porn got found out on the grid by others, and soon the entire world found out about it. The timing was none of LL’s choice.

    Obviously, LL did everything to cause this blow-up in the first place, including opening the doors to everybody last June. But the timing for what many of us knew was only a matter of time wasn’t LL’s choice.


  19. Inigo Chamerberlin

    May 11th, 2007

    I note that yet again Linden Lab have closed comments on their latest blog post on the subject. Closed – not run up to the magic 100 or multiple thereof, but deliberately closed.


    Could it be because the vast majority of those posting are sill opposed to the proposed system?

    Or because an increasing number are saying that what Second Life really needs is a more robust form of verification for everyone – for every one’s protection in our brave new world? I.E. and end it Philips unfortunate experiment of totally unverified access?

    Or is it just the usual Linden Lab ‘go hide in a corner with their fingers in their ears’ reaction to anything but uncritical acclaim?

    Whatever – the thing to do now is to watch out for the NEXT post. The one at about 4:55 SF time… The ‘more bad news’ post.

  20. Obscure Doodad

    May 11th, 2007

    You know, I’ve just thought of an important question no one has asked . . . .

    This Perv Database people are supposed to place themselves in . . . and risk their RL lives, identities and reputations — can we get a definitive statement in the form of an affadavit from LL that every single LL employee will place themselves in the Perv Database and if it is later revealed that this did not take place . . . there are monetary damages assessed against LL?

  21. Inigo Chamerberlin

    May 12th, 2007

    Ok, so, they resisted the temptation to post another ‘SL shaker’ and run away for the weekend. I was wrong – it happens.

    (Inigo wanders off to the garden to eat wurms)

  22. Gaius Goodliffe

    May 12th, 2007

    “Isn’t it a parent’s job to ensure that minors don’t access mature content?”

    I really, really, really wish this were true, but it’s not. People have gone to jail because they provided minors access to “mature” material. In many places, by law, if you allow minors access to it, you’re committing a crime, and “he said he was 18″ doesn’t cut it if you didn’t ask to see his ID. There’s a local bookstore with a back room you can’t go into without showing ID. There’s another bookstore that was closed after the owner was arrested for letting someone in without asking for their ID. It’s much like serving liquor to a minor — you can’t just take their word for it, you have to ask for ID or you’re legally culpable.

    Much of the argument against this seems to revolve around the way most of us agree the world should be, but understand LL has to operate in the context of the way the world actually is.

  23. Jamey Satyr

    May 12th, 2007

    It still both amuses and depresses me, at the same time, that the term Ageplay is constantly given a sexual definintion. Ageplay is simply playing as a different age from what you actually are, such as playing as someone younger or older than you actually are. Most _everyone_ who’s played a RPG of any sort is guilty of that. What the whole problem is, and what it should be being focused on, is child pornography and the ease of finding individuals who do _sexual_ acts as _young characters_ for _money_ on the grid. Personally, I believe what anyone wants to do behind closed doors is their own business, provided it, and the rest of your house, isn’t see-through, and that it’s between two consenting mature individuals in their right minds, but advertising that you do it, for money, well, I’m only astounded that there hasn’t been a backlash before now. I am, however, surprised at the size and degree of the stumbling, drooling, mentally-challenged giant’s reaction, especially as it goes out of it’s way to swat anyone stating ‘ageplay’ or ‘this character is under 18, though the player is over 18′ or anything even resembling the sort, but what can you expect from a company founded and run by the former chief technical officer of Real Media?

    And really, spouting out ‘age verification’ to be a solution to this whole thing is preposterous. Almost everyone underage will roleplay or state they are _over_ the minimum age(being 18, for LL), so the perpetrators of the whole ‘child porn’ indistry on SL are all adults, anyway. From those sexually ageplaying as youngsters, to those “_USING_” said youngsters. It’s just more of the old ‘bait and switch, then hit them with a bat and keep them as confused as possible so they don’t notice that we can’t really solve problems’ crap that LL has been pulling on us ever since beta started. Oh, yeah, @whee, flexi-prims are great, yep, all hail LL.. Screw that, fix the sims and pipeline routines, first, then the memory holes, and _then_ add in new features.

    The biggest problem I can see, with all of this happening, is that LL has opened a super large economy sized can of worms by starting to let the rest of the world dictate what is and isn’t allowed on their servers. With the wide range of what each and every country finds ‘unacceptable’, the entire grid will have to be sanitized to allow them to have accounts from everywhere in the world and for all the governments to be happy. One executive from LL stated that they were making the advertisement of Ageplay unacceptable because they didn’t want to have their IP banned by a foreign country, and that they wanted the accounts from said country. As LL is a corporation and more concerned with getting in new money, figuring all the people who are paying for premium accounts will ‘hold out and wait for better days’, they don’t mind chasing away anyone who’s already payed their original subscription fee and will probably continue to stamp out anything any governement says they don’t like.

    As to the ‘won’t somebody please think of the children’ crowd, and their, and the government’s, whole policy of making sure that the parrent is blameless when their kids don’t know not to take ‘candy’ from strangers, I blame it on the phenomina of everyone wanting kids but not the responsibility of actually bringing them up. They let the TV raise them, or the internet, and then yell and gripe and scream when they realize the kid isn’t being the good little robot they want him/her to be.

    I believe the German news article is false. Or half-false, anyhow. Yes, there are ‘escorts’ that look or ageplay as being underage, and even still advertise it. But the real child-porn pictures thing and refusing to say who gave them to him? It’s not like he’s ‘protecting a source’, he’s just saying ‘I got them from someone. Over there. TRUST me…’ Wouldn’t hold up in court is all I’m saying. I mean, I could jump up and down and scream that George W Bush ‘touched me inapropriately’ as a kid, but without evidence it’d be my word against his, same as in this case, we only have the reporter’s word, and maybe some video that can be faked. After all, it’s video of a world that’s fake, in the first place. Heck, I could make a new acount, right now, upload a picture of a flower, send it to my actual character, and then say, “Gosh, I got this illegal picture from someone else, it’s not mine, I didn’t upload it!” Unethical? Yes. First time a reporter has faked things to get a good story? Oh, heck no. Double heck no. Faking up a good story has been around since the begining of journalism. If they get caught, and they were good at it, it’s simply ‘Oh, my bad, I didn’t find out the whole story!’.

    Just my opinion. Please prove me wrong.

  24. Inigo Chamerberlin

    May 13th, 2007

    >> Jamey Satyr:-

    I was just WAITING for someone to come up with the ‘that nasty German reporter made up the report’ theory here.

    Don’t know where you come from, don’t much care, but just consider the REALITIES of the situation for a moment.

    OK, reporter comes into Second Life and fabricates the story, including Age Play ‘escorts’ and RL child porn samples, right?
    Then he goes back to REAL LIFE and broadcasts the fabricated story and either reports it to his local law enforcement agency, or the story is picked up by his local law enforcement agency, right?

    So far so good.

    But in REAL LIFE, the authorities will take a sworn statement from him, as evidence. That’s how the legal systems of both Europe and North America work.

    Now, let’s project into the future a little, shall we? At some point it emerges that the evidence, which MUST exist because of the nature of SL’s file storage/handling doesn’t exist. It follows therefore that the sworn statement is false.

    What do you think happens then? Do you think the German prosecutor and police chief go round and see this guy and they all have a jolly good laugh about the reporter’s actions?

    Or do you have sufficient connection with REALITY to realise that perjury is just the START of the reporter’s problems?

    Yup, perjury is a good start, a holding charge, while the prosecutor and police work out just how much the time and money they’ve spent, wasted, on this wild goose chase. Then they can add, wasting police time, attempting to pervert the course of justice, and so forth. The names of the offences may vary from country to country, but every North American and European country has multiple legislation to cover an instance like this, and believe me, they use it!

    In my country you’d find yourself facing at least three charges, all imprisionable offences, all viewed very seriously by the courts and no excuses about being a reporter accepted.
    So, that’s without him, and/or his TV station, facing the possibility of a malicious libel case in his local jurisdiction by Linden Lab…

    I’m not even going to bother asking if you still think it’s all ‘faked’ – if you do though, you have completely lost touch with reality my friend.

  25. Jamey Satyr

    May 13th, 2007

    Ehem, yes, you seem to fail to remember the part where the german reporter _refuses to disclose the identity of the person who gave him the pictures_ to linden labs. Without the identity of the person, on SL, they can’t find out who he/she is IRL, so the german police can not find him/her IRL, and thus, they have to take the reporter’s word for it.
    Sounds fishy, to me, when he’s ‘trying to protect the public and the children’ but doesn’t want to bring the perpetrator of the crime to justice.

  26. MannyM

    May 14th, 2007

    I have always subscribed to the notion that if something looks like communal incompetence or conspiracy, assume the former.

    Basically, Linden Labs have totally screwed the whole issue by trying to fool and please all stake holders at the same time.

    When I signed up (March 2006) you either had to provide credit card details or mobile (cell) phone details from a participating carrier.

    This was explicitly stated as being for reasons of age verification. That was good enough 12 months ago.

    Then they dropped this and allowed any man and his dog in as long as they could fill in the application form. They sold SL on the basis that fortunes could be made, that there was online gambling and that online sexual activity was enhanced by 3d modelling and clever scripts.

    People flocked. August/Sept 2006 we had the ‘Yahoo’ invasion. Lindens were ecstatic. They then publicised the growth of the environment and suddenly, the number of avatars went from 1000 000 to 6000 000 in one eighth of the time it took for the population to reach half a million.

    Of course, during this Lindens betrayed their own realm. They did not enforce reponsible checking and dropped their owm standards to impress new shareholders and investors.

    I often wondered why a company like Amazon wanted to be associated with a website that had cartoon characters bonking in the most interesting of ways while their fellow cartoonies were gambling in pretend casinos, torturing each other in make beleive dungeons or selling each other pretnd drugs.

    Sex, gambling, sado masochism and drug use – the foundations of SL.

    Suddenly it has been realised that kids do not really care if they press a TOS submit button declaring that they are over 18. They want to be a part of it and be a part of it now.

    There is only one sensible way out of this for every one, and Phil linden does not, I belive, have the balls to do this.

    Make AV universal and compulsory on the SL main grid. Just like in a RL casino or bar. No ID – no entry. On June 1 all residents must verify their Avatar. On July 1 – no verification – no entry.

    I feel that what most people are objecting to is not the concept of AV, but rather the nambi-pambi corporate bull shit method proposed and the inept way that Robin and Jeska and the rest of the Linden Cyber execs have mismanged the whole PR exercise.

    As an aside, I have noticed too that unverified Avatars will be able to access gambling, just not sex and violence.

    Ummm Governeor Linden…. Gambling in most states of the US is an age 21 plus activity. So guess what? by not checking the age of participants who you may reasonably suspect to be underage puts you, as the host of a gambling environment reponsible under Californian Law.

    Why they will not do this?
    1 Numbers.
    1.1 Of the 6million Avatars only about 1.5 million are active. Age verifictaion results will prove this.

    1.2 Of that 1.5 mill there will be a number of kiddies found. so again bang gores more numbers.

    1.3 Of what is left there will be people with 2, 3 4, and more accounts. Suddenly LL will have to admit to corporate sponsores that they are not reaching to 6 million people world wide, but only about a million.

    1.4 Of those who are left a few will get pissed off and just leave.

    2 Reputation

    If Sl ebcomes an AV site it will not take long for it to get its (well deserved) reputation as being an interactive slease fest for about 25-30% of the people who use it.
    Two things will happen. Coporates and Educational users will leave or fail to progress. Rl spuses of residents will not want their SL addicted partners in “that place.”

    3 Creative Content

    Creative people tend to be individuals and free thinkers. They do not want to be made to do stuff. Basically a large number of the people who will leave Sl over AV will be the type of people they want to retain.

    4. International Access

    Finding ways of ID that will be accessible to all cultures will be difficult. ID systems, drivers licenses etc all differ between countries.

    Of course, the proposal at the moment circumvents all of these. Well it does not circumvent one small problem.

    There are under 18 yo people in SL. Some are doing cyber, some are gambling, some are just making stuff and being cool. But I understood SL was an 18 plus environment. The proposed AV system, in its current form, actually endorses that it is not.

  27. Prokofy Neva

    May 14th, 2007

    Onder, I’m really finding this unpersuasive: “Washington’s security-for-profit fetishism”.

    Washington indeed has such a fetish on obvious things like the Iraq war. But what makes you think they have this about online games and virtual worlds? They may well have — but what is your evidence for this?

    Has it occurred to you that this statement from Aristotle — “There is no rational basis to assume a deal is going forwards” — could be more an effort on *Aristotle’s* part to disassociate itself from a very non-compliant, contentious, and hostile community with a pitbull blogosphere and tabloid press, so as to avoid endless speculation about its credentials? Perhaps *they* — as a company in fact that doesn’t have anything near the blemished record the Herald keeps insinuating — doesn’t want to come anywhere near this mess of Second Life? Maybe *they* don’t want to be involved with a riotous mob of ageplayers and BDSM practitioners — and that’s why the deal soured? The population of SL, given the characteristics we hear about it from the Herald and Second Citizen, sure sounds a hell of a lot more difficult and unpleasant to deal with than the teens wanting to access Anheiser Busch’s website! I mean, say you were a reputable verification agency. Would *you* want to take this *very difficult and nasty account* on board?

    Perhaps the Lindens, under pressure from “the community” — which has gotten very comfortable with the idea that it can whipsaw Lindens around when it wants — made them back out of this deal. But…then which agency will they use? And won’t all agencies of this type sell voting lists and get leftoid nutters in Europe all antsy about “buying the vote” because they don’t understand the role of lists in causes and campaigns?

    And won’t *any* agency even one that doesn’t sell lists merely by being in “Amerika” be suspect to the alleged sullen and rebellious anti-American European majority we’re being led to believe is backlashing against this age verification thing?

    MannyM could be right that LL has messed up by trying to please all stakeholders. But given the actual tendency of LL to in fact run roughshod over the “community” in the last year and be absolutely brutal in pushing through every single change they wish, without recourse, what reason do we have to suspose they were getting all touchy feely about some Dutch lesbian worrying about her name ending up on the lists for sale for elections in Kenosha, Wisconsin?

    I disagree with the ferocity of MannyM and other posters claiming incompetence of LL about all this. I think they have a very tough job to do, trying to design a means of verifying age in a multinational setting in an unbelievably short time with a million back-seat drivers wishing them failure and barking at them over performance.

    I can see that LL may be headed to having to fork the grid, which goes against their most holiest of holies, the One Grid All Hail the Central Grid. If they can’t get their new European, Latin American, Asian partners to age-verify and handle media and police flak-catching for them efficiently, they may split up the service in lieu of having to turn the entire grid into PG.

  28. UpYoursLL

    Jun 24th, 2007

    Last week I received an email from the clowns at LL which read:

    “It has come to our attention that you may be residing on the wrong Second Life grid. The adult grid is for people 18 years old and up. The teen grid is for people between 13 and 17 years of age. We have put your account on hold pending confirmation of your age” bla bla…

    Since I rarely check that old email spambox, I didn’t discover the problem until 3 days had passed after receiving this message, and found (upon login) that my account was coldly and hastily disabled.

    I submitted 2 tickets to customer no-service attempting to sort out the problem and of course never got a reply. After finding the email, I then called the support line and asked how exactly it “came to their attention that I may be residing on the wrong grid”. Naturally, the helpline employee was unable (or unwilling) to provide an answer. He loosely suggested that “maybe it was something I said, in-world.” Oh please, LL… is that the best you can do? Now we must all choose our chat words carefully, lest we be tagged as a suspected minor and targeted for mandatory age-verification?

    I was under the impression this whole age-verification system was purely voluntary. Oh right… “voluntary” as in; either I give them what they want or it’s game-over, and goodbye to my account and all my time, work, uploads and L$$$ along with it!

    I’m one pissed off (30 year old adult) about all this, but I may have no choice but to send these pinheads my ID, just so I can cash out my L$, give all my builds and textures to a trusted friend, then close the account. Maybe afterward I should also consider closing my checking account, since I have absolutely no faith in LL’s ability to protect me from ID thieves and the lot.

    Needless to say, I won’t be spending another dime on a game owned and operated by idiots who implement pointless and risky policies, serve up demanding ultimatums, and largely ignore their paying resident’s complaints.

    Okay, Rosedale… you are undeniably god of your laggish, glorified chat room/sex pit/casino world and I am just another helpless avatar subject. My only power lies in my ability to END my business with you, and I hope your age-verification strong-arming tactics backfire abysmally and it hits you hard in the pocket.

    I chat with other players who have invested far more time and money in SL than have I, and they talk as if they’re terrified to say or do anything which may jeopardize their account. They won’t even provide details in IMs, because they’re actually living in fear of the wrath of almighty Linden Lab spies! Is that the kind of ‘big brother is watching’ virtual world you intended to create, Mr. Rosedale?

    Eventually you may find that your Linden avies are the only players left to keep you company in your silly, overprotective dictatorship styled metaverse. End this rediculously invasive age-verification system and replace it with a simple “I am 18 or over” button which appears prior to entering any adult content-flagged region and politely tell the politicians, activists, lawyers, cyber-cops and concerned parents of the world to kiss off, or it will co$t you dearly in the end.

  29. Nulflux Negulesco

    Sep 29th, 2007

    I’d like to hope that the information I released on the SL blog has caused this interest in what is really going on behind the scenes. For the purposes of reference I have attached the original post to the end of this comment. I would like to point out several things have happened since I posted this information. First of all, everything I post on the SL blog is held for moderation before it is added. Second, Aristotle has changed the wording on all it’s online documentation from “Patriot Act Compliance” to “FEC and State Reporting Requirements”. Third, I’ve been noticing people in town photographing me with high-speed cameras using vehicles marked “Travel Management Division”. Here’s the original post:

    Nulflux Negulesco Says:

    August 29th, 2007 at 6:58 PM PDT
    I am commenting on the ‘Identity Verification’ system because I believe many of you have missed the true and critical components of how this system integrates into the Patriot Act and how it works to eliminate the last bastion of true freedom in the United States.

    Linden Labs has stated in their previous blog entry regarding ‘Identity Verification’ that their single most important goal is to ‘protect our children’ from the adult material in SecondLife. I believe that this is false propoganda supporting a political movement that works to remove all prospects of independent freedom for online users.

    To further clarify the underlying motives behind Linden Labs false propoganda you must cross reference quotes taken from Aristotle’s Integrity public website regarding the purpose of Aristotle’s services:

    Quote from :
    “The service provides merchants and government agencies with PATRIOT ACT compliance and compliance with age verification laws and guidelines.”

    My friends, THIS is the true purpose of what Linden Labs once called ‘Age Verification’ and has recently re-described as ‘Identity Verification’. It is a tool to further decrease the freedom of thought, of expression of free will and of self-determination that SecondLife and United States Citizens have previously enjoyed.

    Aristotle International Inc. does not have any intention of keeping our personal data secret. While it openly states that “This site does not provide visitors’ information to third parties.” the specific wording is misleading.

    The wording, taken in context and with a grain of salt only proves that Aristotle will not share information about ‘hits’ or ‘visitors’ to third-parties regarding visits to their WEBSITE. This statement specifically excludes information (personal data) gained from activities outside their ‘public’ website infrastructure. More to the point, this allows Aristotle to share information with third-parties at their discretion when it has been collected from other sources, such as ‘Identity Verification’ in SecondLife.

    Statements by Linden Labs regarding non-storage of our personal data is an outright lie. While Linden Labs will not maintain a database of our data Aristotle will. As supporting proof I would like to present Exhibit A:

    This document states several things which PROVE BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT that our data will be used AGAINST us and to CONTROL US POLITICALLY!!!

    The following statements are from Exhibit A:


    About Aristotle:
    Aristotle, Inc. is the leading political technology firm in the United States. Widely recognized for having revolutionized politics, Aristotle is a non-partisan firm that has been in existence for over 25 years.

    You’ve got a plan. It’s a solid strategy. It reflects years of experience and lessons learned the hard way. Now you need CONTROL – of your RESOURCES, your COMMUNICATIONS, your PEOPLE, and your INFORMATION.

    One Company, One Solution:
    Aristotle is recognized as the pioneer in political campaign technology. Every occupant of the White House – Democrat and Republican – for more than 25 years, has been an Aristotle customer, as are most U.S. Senators, most members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Democratic and Republican state party organizations.


    Please, I urge everyone to have a look at supporting document Exhibit A. This new ‘Identity Verification’ data is yet another channel of data for this politically oriented data collection engine. Take careful note of the contact information provided in Exhibit A, especially the address: “205 Pennsylvania Ave, SE – WASHINGTON,DC”. Now look at the map kindly provided by Yahoo! maps that shows the location of this address:

    ARISTOTLE INTERNATIONAL INC. IS OPERATING 1 BLOCK AWAY FROM THE UNITED STATES CAPITOL. It is directly beside the Library of Congress and a few blocks away from the Supreme Court. The evidence cited above is concrete, uncontestable PROOF that Linden Labs and their campaign to ‘protect our children from pornography and gambling’ is part of a much larger false propaganda campaign by the UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT to further enhance it’s control and manipulation of not only American citizens, but also citizens WORLDWIDE.

    How much longer are we – the residents of SecondLife and Members of the International Community – going to allow this perpetuation of misinformation and blatant mind-control to continue. It is time that we stand up for our freedoms. As of this moment I am publicly announcing the formation of the Virtual Sovereignty Movement. Several weeks ago I formed the VSM in opposition to the supreme dictatorship of Linden Labs and today I am extending it’s goals to the abolition of corporate, political and religious misinformation, propaganda and mind-control (virtual slavery) over virtual worlds.

    As an community of international free-thinking individuals we must join in unity against the dystopian mind-control and oppressive regulations imposed on our digital universe. We must help protect our rights to self-determination and expression of individual will. The tyranny we face is intent on commiting creative genocide. We must stand strong against this tyranny as one nation, undivided and become the juggernaut that will forge the foundation of a SecondLife that is truly ‘Your World’ and ‘Your Imagination’.

    If you would like to join our cause and help liberate the once-free virtual universe please become a member of the Virtual Sovereignty Movement group in SecondLife. Membership is free and open to anyone. We are not here to make money, we are here to become the leading force in a revolution against the political invasions of privacy, destruction of freedoms and subliminal mind-control in SecondLife.

    Nulflux Negulesco
    Founder of VSM (Virtual Sovereignty Movement)

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