About one week ago there has been a report that aired on German television about the depiction of child pornography in Second Life. It sent out massive waves through the whole community, the Lindens even wrote an article about the whole case on their own blog.
The whole case broke down into this parts:
- the depiction of child pornography in Second Life, meaning: an avatar in child form having sex in world with an adult avatar and
- the exchange of real life pictures of teens and preteens in questionable poses (nude and more heavy stuff, it seems) as textures in world between some avatars.
The first case is not illegal in all countries; for example in the USA some could just say "heck, those are virtual things and just adults playing behind the whole scene, no real child has been harmed at all while doing this, and it is not illegal, either, so what’s the ruckus?" The final decision on it has to be made by a judge.
But Second Life has people coming from all over the world, and in many countries the depiction of such acts – virtual childs or not – at all is already against the law, so already the first case is against German law. But of course this doesn’t mean this act has been conducted by Germans, that’s something for the Lindens to find out.
Even more serious is the second part – the real life pictures. Law is here more or less the same in all developed countries, posession of such things is against the law and therefore a case for the prosecutor.
The names of the avatars were shown in the report, by the way. If they haven’t been banned already, they would be so dead by now, since million of people watched it and the word spread out, you cannot have an idea about that!
Anyway, the investigations have been showed to Robin Linden and she looked really shocked in the report. Ok, she looked not too good at all in the interview, but we all know who medias can make you look bad if they just want you to, by using the wrong light etc.
At last the Lindens have reacted at lightning speed to this issue. Why? Because this is a real, real big threat to their business. At the moment many companies are rushing into the still hip Second Life. If Lindenlabs would have not reacted at all, it would have a big image problem by now, not only being considered as "virtual sex world", but as "home of virtual pedophiles" or something like that.
And it is hard to convince your CEO to invest into such a thing, this would drive many potential customers away, so they had to react and with force, being open about it and telling all and that’s exactly what they did.
Even if some consider the first part just "role play", I personally find that kind of "role play" disgusting, but like always, it is not going away, it is now moving more in the underground since the first case of such a thing has been made public to a big audience.