Monday, February 7, 2011

Hey LL, Can I have my Privacy Back?

by Cummere Mayo

In the past few weeks a trend is sweeping though the forums, the jira, the blogs, and through office hours. That trend is Second Life users demanding their privacy back.

First came the rebellion against the new version of web profiles as people objected to their real life tabs being displayed and with the mandatory widgets, particularly the infamous spyware tool known as the Facebook Like button. People grew more upset when they realize their OLD profiles had also had widgets and tools to trade them and that LL had never really disclosed the fact that for over two years we have had unprotected profiles.
The reaction was swift and furious with residents demanding that widgets be made opt-out, opt-in, or removed all together; profiles get more security or be moved back to in-world only; and majorly slammed LL for the breaches of privacy.

Sadly several people went on a mission to like and link SL profiles to Facebook and now the very people that pointed out the risks are seeing them firsthand. People are facing divorces or, like me, job loss because of these massive breaches of security.

Next came a revival of the push to get the LSL online exploit fixed for once and for all, this brief push was overshadowed by users finally having enough with a more invasive, if often inaccurate, system that brags about breaking the TOS by collecting Ip addresses, installing cookies, and then attempting to link avatars as alts. This system marketed as a supposed anticopybot system (and yet by thier own stats has identified less then .002% of the alts to be actual copybotters), includes a hud that has complete access to an off-world database that people use to find and stalk the alts of people. This system is known as Redzone, and people want it and others like it banned. Especially since it has proven itself to be a great stalking tool. In fact on thier own forums Redzone specifies the hud version was made especially for people that wanted to trace and find alts of people on land they didn't own.

The opposition to privacy has been kind of haphazard and very accusatory and led by some well known stalkers and the owners of Redzone and seems to be pretty much variations of "I should have the right to know who your alt is," "You must be doing something wrong if you don't want people to know who you are/what you're doing," and my personal favorite, "If you want Privacy you shouldn't log on the Internet." None of these arguments has any real merit and only seem to come from people that are unhealthily obsessed with knowing what other people are doing.

Already, other grids are looking at the opportunity to cash in. Inworldz and Opensim have much more stringent privacy policies with better enforcement. If there is one thing that can be learned, the majority of LL users still want thier privacy!

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