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.

6 thoughts on “Nailing the data harvesters (2): LL make a move

  1. Nailing huh ….ok I’ll behave!

    The issue is the inworld scanners on parcels, whereas data collection isn’t banned by this policy, it’s the scanner itself that’s at the centre of this issue, if that’s allowed to carry on without consent the policy is pretty weak, and people should keep media tools disabled.

    Whereas LL can’t be expected to prevent data gathering, they should be expected to apply common sense when a device operates against the spirit of the community standards.

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    1. Funny…I was literally posting more-or-less the same view over on your blog when I got an e-mail stating you’d commented here…

      I guess in zFire’s book, that makes us alts of one another…

      But yes, the scanner, together with the matter of data *gathering* would still seem to be the crux off the issue here, if zFire’s statements vis-a-vis the HUD are true (and he is not simply avoiding mention of the scanner for fear of the potential reaction of his users).

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  2. I enjoy looking over your shoulder :p ewww I can’t be your alt, that would be most disturbing for my mind!!!

    We do have to be careful regarding data gathering, that’s why I say Ll also need to apply common sense, there needs to be wiggle room, they moved some way towards wiggle room by basically saying that gathering information that isn’t public is the dodgy area, otherwise the like of Tyche Shepherd’s grid bot would be being questioned.

    There are still many issues at play here, hopefully it unfolds sensibly in the coming days.

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    1. The policy should be straightforward:

      *NO* gathering of personal information beyond that which is provided within avatar profiles
      *NO* transmission of any personal information beyond that which is provided within avatar profiles
      *ALL* devices, whether in-world or worn, *must* request and obtain formal consent for data to be gathered
      *ALL* forms of consent *must* explain that a “yes” response will result in personal information being logged to a “database” and/or being made available to the owner of the requested object
      *ALL* devices, whether in-world or worn *must* provide a “no” / opt-out option that will not penalise the avatar being scanned or interfere with their ability to use and enjoy Second Life.

      These points need to go alongside measures for preventing exploits such as we’ve seen being used to extract data with or without consent.

      (updated 11:50 to add additional bullet vis. information logging)

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