Could Australia be barred from Second Life access?

Darn straight they could. Second Life could be on the hitlist, the more so because of the Zindra continent for adult content.

While Second Life clearly isn’t a game, I doubt that anyone involved in the process really cares about that trivial little detail. We’re all pretty sure this isn’t really about games anyway, right? After all, the current list also censors religion, political opinion, veterinarians, and school lunches.

Couldn’t the ACMA just block access to the adult SL continent? Well, with the cooperation of the Lab, that’s possible, but seriously… The government stands to gain more political mileage by blocking all of SL to Australian users than just the adult bits. I wouldn’t think that they would bother putting in the effort.

There are two campaigns worth your attention:

If you’re a gamer, the EFA’s R18+ rating for games (currently no game can receive a classification if it is not suitable for a 15-year-old).

Or if you’re concerned about politics, religion, anti-abortion, medical references, dentists, and school tuckshops being censored in secret (mixed up with all the other material), you should look at the EFA’s No Clean Feed campaign.

Meanwhile, Lowell Cremorne of The Metaverse Journal has some tough questions in an open letter to Senator Conroy.

28 thoughts on “Could Australia be barred from Second Life access?”

  1. Ohh Dear..the sky is falling. While a concern..a lot of If’s, But’s and Maybes are linked together to draw the bow that Aussies could be “filtered” from Second Life. You believe something printed in the Fairfax papers? And a “leaked list”..something like that forged email that everyone got hot over for like 20 seconds. Gimme a break
    Even comments added now say..”Conroy has announced that “Australians are to be banned from Second Life”..balderdash, stupidity and chinese whispers win again
    Some people just Luurve some drama.

    1. Indeed, it is premature to say that “Australians are to be banned from Second Life”, since no such statements have been made. But it is well-aligned with statements made by the minister, and seems very likely. I’m hopefully speaking with the minister’s office later today.

  2. If the Hon’rable Senator moves to ban Second Life, they’d better be ready to drop the hammer on a lot of other virtual worlds and chatservices like Sociolotron and IMVU.

    Seriously, he needs a bop in the head with a mallet of common sense, and it needs to happen b4 Australia actually wastes serious money constructing the Great Firewall of Australia.

  3. Another example of an ill-informed and ignorant Minister.. is it crazy to think that democratic outrage will succeed in getting this dealt with properly?

    I agree with Tateru that it seems likely some steps will be taken, but optimistically hope that some will see reason. Sort of ironic that stronger mature classificiation would help..

  4. There’s actually a much more severe issue with this scheme than might be readily apparent. I’ll be talking about that on The Metaverse Journal later today.

  5. So basically australia’s government thinks all they have there are morons incapable of anything beyond the capacity of a 15 year old.

    Sounds to me like the money needs to dump australia and let them rot rofl. Once nobody will do business with them all they will have left is the NSA paying for the ast link facility at alice springs. Sadly that is probably the goal.

    I would love to say more but I don’t feel like any forced sessions in government BDSM dungeons.

  6. Conroy is a dolt with limited support in cabinet or the parliament. I seriously doubt anyone else in the government was aware of this press release or that it will get a lot of support. We do need to campaign on the issue but we do not need to get hysterical. And Tateru is dead right about the new Adult continent. It is hard how to imagine how LL could have painted a bigger target on themselves then this silly policy.

  7. Still waiting on responses (of any sort) from either Senator Conroy’s staff or Linden Lab — both on behalf of work, of course.

    I’ve asked the Lab for a comment, and asked the Senator’s staff to whom I should be directing press queries. So far, you can hear a pin drop.

  8. Conroy’s staff are famous for never commenting on anything. They’ve embarrassed themselves horribly in the past by demonstrating they know very little about the technical side of the issues they are dealing with. Scan a few media reports. They almost always carry the tag ‘Senator Conroy declined to comment for this article’.

  9. Is it a requirement, do you think, that the communications minister for whatever country seems to know fairly little about communications — or does it just coincidentally work out that way?

  10. I suspect the real problem is that Rudd does not seem to know much about technology beyond faster broadband is a good thing. When he became prime minister the prime minister’s website was a real soon now page for months. There is some kind of contest between Conroy and Lindsay Tanner. Tanner was one of the sponsoring ministers for Conroy’s 4-day blog in December and has just launched a Gov2.0 blog. You’d expect the communications minister to run such a blog but Tanner has taken control of it.

  11. Someone in the Minister’s staff seems to be clever, anyway. Targeting online games is likely to make the proposed filtering system more palatable to the senate, rather than less.

  12. Alas, faster broadband isn’t necessarily a good thing. Broadband is a really a far more complex and interrelated issue than just “fat pipes are more betterer”.

    Unless they’re also planning to drastically lower costs, and improve contention ratios as well.

  13. Australia’s ban of Second Life and other similar sites sets a dangerous precedent that should strike fear into the hearts of free people everywhere. A “free” country that has a “Minister for Censorship!?” This is something we might expect from China, North Korea or Iran, but Australia!? The Nazis would be so proud!

    Those who call themselves “Christians” or “Moral,” might see this as a “victory” over “evil.” But for them, as well as all who applaud this travesty of freedom I will quote Benjamin Franklin, who said:

    “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

    It appears the people of Australia are still prisoners, exiled as were their forefathers and permitted only the freedoms their masters deem fit. It will be interesting to see if they accept this Orwellian destiny or rise up and demand the freedoms so many of them have given their blood to defend around the world.

    As for Second Life (SL) and its “danger” as a source of adult content; SL is no more or less dangerous than the rest of the Internet. Those who wish to can find virtually anything they want on the Internet, good, bad or indifferent.

    It should be up to adults and parents, not a “Nanny State,” to take the steps necessary to limit exposure to content they deem inappropriate for themselves or their children. This can be done at the individual PC or user level.

    By banning access to Second Life, the Australian government is not only cutting off access to “adult” content, but also art, music, education and collaboration opportunities that have the potential to enlighten, inspire and improve the lives of its citizens, young and old alike. If the government of Australia succeeds in censoring SL from their citizens, those of us who work, learn and yes “play” in Second Life will miss the tremendous spirit and contributions our Australian brothers and sisters make to SL everyday.

    I close with a quote from another of our (American) Founding Fathers, that I hope will be taken to heart by all those who love freedom in Australia and around the world:

    “”The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Thomas Jefferson

  14. Over the last 48 hours, I’ve had about as many people tell me that Senator Conroy has explicitly stated that SL will be barred as have told me that he has explicitly stated that it will not be barred.

    That’s a lot of people.

    Moreover, it is a lot of people who haven’t been able to point to any such statement.

    I’ve still been unable to get a response from either Linden Lab (whom I have asked for a comment) or from Senator Conroy’s media people (whom I have asked to whom we go to to get a comment. Repeatedly).

  15. *

    n Australia the transcripts of what is said in Parliament are known as “Hansard”. Senator Conroy’s specific answer to the question about blocking (not banning – blocking access) can be read here:

    http://www.aph.gov.au/Hansard/senate/dailys/ds220609.pdf

    Page 95 (PDF page 109), Scott Ludlam, Question 1496.13: “Will computer games exceeding the requirements of the MA15+ classification be RC and potentially blocked by ISPs on a mandatory basis for adults; if not, what other exceptions to RC would be similarly permitted.”

    Page 96 (PDF page 110), Stephen Conroy’s Answer: “Computer games that exceed an MA15+ rating are deemed to be RC content as there is no R18+ or X18+ rating. RC content will be included in the mandatory filtering of RC content under the Government’s proposal. Issues relating to the classification of computer games fall within the Attorney-General’s portfolio.

    speak up

  16. My understanding from the statement by Linden Lab is that Second Life is not a game within the terms of current law or any proposed law. LL say they have confirmed that with Conroy’s office.

  17. Really? My understanding is that Linden Lab has not sought confirmation from Conroy’s office at all. Where did they say it? I’d like to see exactly what they confirmed.

  18. I’m relying on the statement from Linden Lab. I assume, perhaps bravely, that LL actually contacted Conroy’s office before issuing that statement.

    As noted at Dusan’s site SL has never been mentioned in the Senate or House of Representatives and there is only one committee mention.

    The Act itself defines interactive game as having stages or levels. My own judgement is that a court could not read the definition, taking account of the purposive rule in Australian law, to include SL which lacks those characteristics.

    I do not exclude the possibility that Conroy, a social conservative nutter with no grasp of technical issues, may want to legislate against virtual worlds at some stage. I do say he has no chance of passing such a law. The numbers in the present Senate would prevent the passage of such legislation and, at least in the case of SL, the limited protection for freedom of communication first articulated by the High Court in Nationwide News Pty Ltd v Wills would, at least arguably, make such a ban unconstitutional.

    I am told, although I cannot quote any source for obvious reasons, that there is considerable disquiet in the ALP caucus over Conroy’s enthusiasm for banning stuff.

  19. Okay, so the Lab has no confirmation. I don’t either. I’m still trying to get the media people at the Minister’s office to talk about the proposal at all. They don’t seem to be willing to talk to the media about the proposal at this time.

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