Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Second Life, Real Life, Not as Seperate as You Think

by Cummere Mayo

I don't post here often. When I do, I know I make several people groan. But sometimes that can be a good thing.

For a while I have stated that SL and RL can be very dangerously brought together with very little information and that Linden Lab needs to take a stand, close some major exploits, and get their heads out of their asses about Facebook and web profiles.

It seems someone might be listening. I've noticed Facebook "like" buttons have become much more scarce and have even disappeared from some places. Thank you, whoever made that call.

The trouble is, LL is continuing to react to privacy matters, too slowly, and far too late. Remember how I said like a broken record in past posts that it doesn't take much to link SL to your RL no matter how careful you are?

Well various groups around SL have taken that to heart. One even has a wiki that has been leaked at least once a year that proves that not only can this be done, but it has been done, and in fact continues to be done. In fact despite apparently being told they could no longer use this wiki, this group is continuing to grow it.

What is worse is that there is proof that Linden Lab is a willing accomplice. At least two previous Lindens were given access to the wiki according to wiki entries this group added themselves. Plexus and Teagen. I have not asked Teagen if these accusations are true. I honestly don't wish to know.

What information about users is included in the wiki?
Well according to the wiki's creator, something like 1/10th of the users of SL are in the wiki. Each entry varies greatly. For some its really small and bland. A couple of sentences such as "so-and-so met this person at Ahern and they seem okay."
others are not so benign.
Entries on at least one real life couple include not only information about their main second life accounts, but information about their real life names, occupations, the companies they work for, schools they attended, geographic location, possible medical conditions, alternate accounts, even their children.
Another entry included information on another woman who found out her partner used fake information to bypass the age verification system. In it despite that she immediately cut off contact with that person, they accused her of illegal sex acts with minors, and then went on to list real life information on her, and her employer, even documenting trips she and her boss took. To my reading it stopped just short of accusing her of having an affair with her boss.
Other users had private emails, private conversations, blogs both private and public, facebook and/or linked in accounts, and even photos of themselves and their houses. Some of these entries are even on people this group thinks are or might possibly be minors.
Multiple people now have uncovered tracking systems that this group used to track avatars and someone even found a chat recorder hidden on their lands by way of well known exploits. These systems recorded the locations and/or conversations of the users and was compared to facebook searches, google searches, and ip addresses to attempt to id a person.

Even accounts that were not tracked had information gathered from innocuous bits of data compared with Google searches, Linked In, Facebook, blogspot, wordpress, and other sources.

Before you say this is all a game, you should know this group admitted to calling and emailing employers and universities in attempts to get people fired or expelled; bragged about tailing people around the SLCC conventions recording, doccumenting, and possibly photographing every move; admitted to filing homeland security complaints for "cyberterrorism;" and, my personal favorite, contacted the family of a user pretending to be friends of that user to both confirm that user was dead and to add more information about his family to their wiki.

A former linden has confirmed that Linden Lab has known about this group AND OTHERS LIKE IT for years and has done nothing for fear that stepping in might cost them financially or hurt their image. Worse LL has pretty much given these groups free reign knowing full well what they were doing under the advice of their legal department.

Rodvik: It is time to step up. Fire all the Lindens that colluded with these groups, fire all the lindens that colluded with these groups, find new legal council for Linden Lab, reverse the bans that came about because of these groups AR parties, and make a policy where deliberate attacks on other users privacy get swift bans and possibly legal action.

A huge 10,000 post discussion thread which has many relevant links, screenshots, and so forth can be found at http://www.sluniverse.com/php/vb/general-sl-discussion/63339-jlu-harvesting-ip-addresses.html but many other sources have carried this including the herald and other blogs. There is now an online petition to have this group shut down and several comments and replies to comments posted on Rodvik Linden's profile page.

The FTC seems to have been brought in as well with complaint reference numbers being 32191970 and 32301189.

1 comment:

JayR Cela said...

There is one way around this problem.

Don't Use Face Book
I killed my account a year ago. I do however have a fictional SL Avatar account. It has never been subject to the so-called Culling of account's, and if it is someday, big deal.

Who Care's