Child Pornography – Linden Lab’s firm response

The Official Linden Blog carried one of its more serious topics today – allegations of child pornography. The blog post details the chain of events. Linden Labs’ reaction certainly demonstrates their belief in stamping out anything related to child exploitation and they deserve commendation for that.

Based on the blog post, I took the opportunity to use the SL search functionality and typed in ‘child’ – the result was everything from anti-child pornography groups through to childrens clothing and body-shape stores. The second location we teleported to contained the following images:

sl1235.jpg

Another location appeared more innocuous but still contained body shapes like this:

sl1236.jpg

We’re not asserting that the locations we saw are involved in child pornography. However, these images are obviously of under-18’s. I saw another picture of a child-like body shape for sale in nothing but panties which contained a sales description of ‘pert preteen body’.

That on its own may not constitute pornography but it’s difficult to rationalise the use of child body shapes beyond some very unhealthy intentions. There are people in SL who want to be carefree and live like a child, but arguably this isn’t the majority of the market.

We’ve contacted Linden Labs via their PR company for comment and we’ll report any response.

Update (November 2007): Reuters is reporting that the UK have undercover police investigating pedophilia in virtual worlds including Second Life. Second Life Insider is also running a story on Wonderland sim and Sky News’ reporting on it.

Update 2: Croga is an excellent site that provides confidential information to those concerned about their viewing of child pornography online.

Comments

  1. Zak Claxton says:

    This has been being discussed for a long time. As a microcosm of the rest of the real world, SL has some form of representation of every fetish imaginable. The two sides of this that make it more difficult than one would think to take a stance are as follows.

    1. This is kiddie porn and is internationally reviled and illegal and needs to stop now.

    2. This is merely age play done between consenting adults who are acting in roles, and while some people may not find it to be their cup of tea, no one is actually harmed by the fulfilling a fantasy, which may in fact have a cathartic effect and keep would-be molesters from acting out their urges in real life.

    Which is right? I don’t know; I never claimed to be a moral barometer.

  2. Zak Claxton says:

    This has been being discussed for a long time. As a microcosm of the rest of the real world, SL has some form of representation of every fetish imaginable. The two sides of this that make it more difficult than one would think to take a stance are as follows.

    1. This is kiddie porn and is internationally reviled and illegal and needs to stop now.

    2. This is merely age play done between consenting adults who are acting in roles, and while some people may not find it to be their cup of tea, no one is actually harmed by the fulfilling a fantasy, which may in fact have a cathartic effect and keep would-be molesters from acting out their urges in real life.

    Which is right? I don’t know; I never claimed to be a moral barometer.

  3. WhicCla says:

    The US federal definition of child pornography requires that an actual child exist (18 USC 2256, 8). It used to include virtual children until the US Supreme Court struck those provisions down as violations of free speech (Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U.S. 234 (2002)).

    The most ironic thing about this entire story is that Linden Lab now attempts to censor Americans’ free speech because of GERMANY, of all places. According to wikipedia, beastiality is legal in Germany. It’s also legal in some other countries in Europe, from where Linden Lab would rather generate income.

    So to recap, in Germany:
    Virtual sex with virtual children = ILLEGAL
    Real sex with real animals = LEGAL

    Thank you, Germany, for providing clear moral compass and leadership for us pathetic, immoral, Americans!

  4. WhicCla says:

    The US federal definition of child pornography requires that an actual child exist (18 USC 2256, 8). It used to include virtual children until the US Supreme Court struck those provisions down as violations of free speech (Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U.S. 234 (2002)).

    The most ironic thing about this entire story is that Linden Lab now attempts to censor Americans’ free speech because of GERMANY, of all places. According to wikipedia, beastiality is legal in Germany. It’s also legal in some other countries in Europe, from where Linden Lab would rather generate income.

    So to recap, in Germany:
    Virtual sex with virtual children = ILLEGAL
    Real sex with real animals = LEGAL

    Thank you, Germany, for providing clear moral compass and leadership for us pathetic, immoral, Americans!

  5. skribe Forti says:

    So I guess the furry community is safe for now…at least until a US news crew decides to investigate.

  6. skribe Forti says:

    So I guess the furry community is safe for now…at least until a US news crew decides to investigate.

  7. What I see in the world, virtual or real, is about the people in it and the behavior they choose to express. What I see in myself as a reaction or a response to this behavior is an entirely different matter. My behavior is entirely under my control and the energy of life I transform will be either positive and beneficial to the world or reactionary and negative/aggressive/controlling.
    I am at all times free to choose my behaviors and to modify and make different choices if I find the behaviors I have chosen to be unsuitable. Virtual laws/ what about trying some virtual commonsense instead?

  8. What I see in the world, virtual or real, is about the people in it and the behavior they choose to express. What I see in myself as a reaction or a response to this behavior is an entirely different matter. My behavior is entirely under my control and the energy of life I transform will be either positive and beneficial to the world or reactionary and negative/aggressive/controlling.
    I am at all times free to choose my behaviors and to modify and make different choices if I find the behaviors I have chosen to be unsuitable. Virtual laws/ what about trying some virtual commonsense instead?

  9. Who really cairs? There just cartoons of girls that may or may not be underage. The key word here is “Cartoons” as in not real.

    I know, I know in some parts of the world even that is illegal but I just don’t get make a law that makes it illegal.

  10. Who really cairs? There just cartoons of girls that may or may not be underage. The key word here is “Cartoons” as in not real.

    I know, I know in some parts of the world even that is illegal but I just don’t get make a law that makes it illegal.

  11. Naoki Ninetails says:

    Just seeing this post quite late…. I refuse to comment on “Tim G.”‘s post because it was frankly ignorant. 🙂

    However, I would like to explain that EGL – Elegant Gothic Lolita – is a fashion movement from Japan that is anything but sexual. It’s no more sexual than the babydoll dress craze of the 90s. Weird, but *not* sexual. It’s just a fashion thing, clothing inspired by Victorian and doll-like styles of dress. There’s a male version too. The “Lolita” part is just the English name that Japanese trendsetters chose. It doesn’t serve the purpose of making the wearer appear as an actual child.

  12. Naoki Ninetails says:

    Just seeing this post quite late…. I refuse to comment on “Tim G.”‘s post because it was frankly ignorant. 🙂

    However, I would like to explain that EGL – Elegant Gothic Lolita – is a fashion movement from Japan that is anything but sexual. It’s no more sexual than the babydoll dress craze of the 90s. Weird, but *not* sexual. It’s just a fashion thing, clothing inspired by Victorian and doll-like styles of dress. There’s a male version too. The “Lolita” part is just the English name that Japanese trendsetters chose. It doesn’t serve the purpose of making the wearer appear as an actual child.

  13. Violetta says:

    In Second Life I live it as a child. This has nothing to do with sexual stuff. I just live life as a child, get a family and act like a child. For some of my fellow Second Lifers, its a chance to relive your childhood, if you’ve had a bad one. You’re cared for and highly protected.

    What’s to say it’s child porn?

  14. Wolfie Rankin says:

    I don’t think that people wanting child avatars is a bad thing, as Violetta said, it could be very cathartic for those who missed their childhood… I had a good one I think, but
    I still miss it at times.

    A friend of mine once told me that all Women on SL are Men and all Child avatars are the FBI, that was pretty cheeky, and I’m sure it’s wrong but I had to write it.

    Furries do cop a bit of flack now and then, but only from people who think it’s just a weird fetish… Like Violetta, I’m not a furry because of the sexual stuff, it just suits me.

    I think it’s a shame that I can’t bring my grand neice into SL with me, She’s seen it and loves it.

    I would love to see something setup where kids are allowed on the main grid,
    provided they can only get on g-rated islands, can only log in with a parent or guardian and cannot teleport to another island without their guardian.

    SL has done a lot to bring friends together, but families have been a bit left out.

    Wolfie!

  15. Imagine you spend years building up relationships with your clients and establishing your business and brand in the marketplace and one of your key employees sets up a competing business on the back of your business and, virtually overnight, solicits your clients across to his/her competing business.

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