Not long ago I gave a possible reason as to why LL’s attempt to introduce Adult Content has come now, and possibly why it is confused.
Well, it’s now official: I was wrong -possibly. Not lesser person than Ken Dreifach (Ken Linden) – Linden Lab’s Deputy General Counsel has put me right on this (albeit indirectly). When asked about the FTC investigation by Mitch Wagner on Sunday 31st May, Dreifach responded:
“That’s not behind this, we actually learned about that…well I guess it’s this month….uhh…that there was something in the….I guess it was one of the appropriations bills back in March where, ah, Congress asked the FTC to, ah, do a study on what types of content – adult content, other content – are available in virtual worlds, and whether, um…what the accessibility to and by minors is. But that’s not focused specifically on Second Life, that’s just a study that they’re doing…and we’ll all read it in about a year…”
However, I do find Ken’s words somewhat surprising in that a) he has apparently been unaware of an investigation which received funding inDecember 2008 as a part of HR 110-920 (and not in March as he states); and that b) the outcome of the investigation could impact all virtual worlds, including Second Life. Again, to quote the specifics of the appropriation:
“In addition, no later than 9 months after enactment of this Act, the Commission shall submit a report to the Appropriations Committee discussing the types of content on virtual reality sites and what steps, if any, these sites take to prevent minors from accessing content.“
[Above emphasis mine.]
Given this statement, one would assume Linden Lab would be looking at the FTC investigation a little harder than Ken’s words would perhaps suggest. But be that as it may. It’s not my place to second-guess corporate thinking.
What is clear is from the comments passed during by Linden Lab representatives during a recorded discussion, is that for something that has been under consideration for between one and two years (time period dependent upon which Linden rep was talking on-camera), this entire matter has managed to become an unmitigated mess which (despite Ken’s words) now smacks of being rushed through without any clarity of thought – or real consideration of the upheaval it will create.
So…maybe I was wrong about the FTC. Or perhaps this is something LL were thinking would be something they should do back when they first foisted age verification, but they never actually got round to thinking how it could be done…..until the launch of the FTC investigation panicked them into “action”. If the idea has been floating nebulously around the LL offices for the two years since age verification was introduced, even if no direct action was taken until recently, then technically Ken’s statement is accurate.
But then, so to is my guess as to the reason behind the matter becoming an almighty rush.