Nailing the data harvesters (2): LL make a move

It seems LL have made a move to clamp down on tools like RedZone.

Until today, Section 4 of the Community Standards read:

“Residents are entitled to a reasonable level of privacy with regard to their Second Life experience. Sharing personal information about a fellow Resident –including gender, religion, age, marital status, race, sexual preference, and real-world location beyond what is provided by the Resident in the First Life page of their Resident profile is a violation of that Resident’s privacy. Remotely monitoring conversations, posting conversation logs, or sharing conversation logs without consent are all prohibited in Second Life and on the Second Life Forums.”

However, this has now been revised to read:

“Residents are entitled to a reasonable level of privacy with regard to their Second Life experience. Sharing personal information about your fellow Residents without their consent — including gender, religion, age, marital status, race, sexual preference, alternate account names, and real-world location beyond what is provided by them in their Resident profile — is not allowed. Remotely monitoring conversations in Second Life, posting conversation logs, or sharing conversation logs without the participants’ consent are all prohibited.”

[my emphasis]

Thus, at a stroke, the surreptitious ability of RedZone to gather information on SL users without their knowledge, much less consent is rendered void – or is it?

It’s not quite time to proclaim victory as yet. While the change to Section 4 of the CS is indeed welcome, it does not go far enough: sharing information that can be regarded as personal may not “not be allowed” – what about gathering of said information?

There is also the matter of in-store scanners (note that on his own blog zFire only comments on his nasty little (and purely voyeuristic) HUD as being updated to request people allow it to scan them).

The playing field has shifted, certainly – but, depending on what policy announcement is forthcoming from LL tomorrow – it seems that it may not have shifted enough.

Right now, the rule of thumb would be to keep your media tools disabled – at least for the time being.

ADDENDUM – Feb 25th

Thanks to Theia Magic’s investigations, it now appears that the RedZone in-world scanners give you a link to follow to the RedZone website in order to “give your consent” to be “background checked”.

This being the case, I’d advise people to keep media disabled and to stay away from the RedZone website – especially if following links using your own web browser,  rather than the built-in Viewer browser. Visiting that website is giving a clear indication that you’re OK with data being captured and – potentially – a cookie being deposited on your computer – even if you’re attempting to “opt out” of your information being captured!

The website is further confusing inasmuch as only those already scanned need to “opt out”. Despite the claims of zFire Xue, RedZone’s creator, those scanned / placed on the database are liable to be in the minority – therefore this approach could fool people into exposing themselves where there is no need for them to do so.

Beyond this, the solutions currently being offered up by zFire Xue relate purely to having your details (if any) “checked” on his database – they do nothing to prevent any actual scanning by his in-world items in the first place.

So – simplest solution: keep your media options disabled and remember there are a lot more stores you can shop at / clubs you can dance at that don’t use RedZone than there are stores that do use it.