Privacy: words and deeds

When talking to Dusan Writer recently, Rod Humble made a very interesting statement:

Privacy is extremely important for anyone putting themselves out there, expressing themselves, or expressing a side of themselves through an avatar. People don’t want other people to connect the dots from their avatar to their real life person – or even, for that matter, to an alt. One of the ethical obligations we have is to protect people’s privacy

“People come to Second Life because they want a story, they want to be in a story….and we have an ethical obligation to protect that.

I’m not so sure that the conventional wisdom makes any sense. Yes, it might be technically easy to track people and all that. But in the long-term I’m optimistic that we’ll see the pendulum swing back in the other direction towards more privacy.

And granted, while it can be read at least two ways, LL Board member and investor Mitch Kapor appeared to see the light on matters of privacy when he tweeted:

“The more I learn, the more I see how the whole biz side of social networking is built on surreptitiously stealing personal data”

As regular readers here are only too aware, there has been much of a to-do about RedZone and its data-harvesting & drama/griefing capabilities (I simply cannot refer to it as an “anti-Copybotting tool” due to it being an abject failure in this regard). As has been seen, Linden Lab have made a move to partially close the door on things, although they’ve not – as yet, at least in this affair – gone far enough (and at this point it is only speculation as to whether they’ll go further in this particular matter).

However, the issue of user data – beyond what we volunteer to reveal in our Profiles  – being harvested is still an issue whether or not a single tool and HUD are on the market or not. Viewer patches will help, a clear-cut policy is needed – and users themselves need to be empowered to be able to make a clear-cut choice in matters of privacy.

Ann O’Toole has hit upon one way in which the latter can be achieved, and has raised a JIRA on the matter.

This is an elegant solution because it provides every single user in SL with a choice as to what happens “under the covers” with any data which is linked to them outside of Profile information. As such, it dovetails perfectly with Rod Humble’s stated views on privacy within and beyond Second Life – indeed it encourages the swing of the pendulum to which he alludes –  and curtails the act of surreptitiously stealing personal data which appears to have Mitch Kapor somewhat concerned about in his Tweet.

So – I urge you all very strongly to go visit SVC-6793 and add your weight to those voting / watching the issue – it really is in your best interests to do so.

4 thoughts on “Privacy: words and deeds

  1. Voted, watched and agreed with. And in the meantime I suggest something that has been mentioned (though I cant remember where) that we add all zFire’s domains to our firewall blacklists. It will help if you’ve not already been compromised at least.


    1. On behalf of Ann Otoole – thank you.

      zFire’s primary IP? see here for his domains (and others) to be blacklisted via Host files


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