Second Life: Free Speech Ban in UK? No Sex?

This year has seen many attacks on free speech. A new restriction is going into effect in the UK. UK to censor online videos of ‘non-conventional’ sex acts.

Beautiful in white

Beautiful in white

I’ve already been contacted by people in Second Life™ worried that it may mean SL will be banded in the UK. It gets complicated as banning requires ‘unconventional sex acts’ be defined and that age verification meet certain standards, which seem to be poorly defined and left to some bureaucrat to decide. 

The law was promoted as protecting children. All the despots of the world say they are doing things for ‘the people’ or ‘the children’. When you hear such a claim it should be a red flag signaling you to dig deeper rather than just follow a good sounding label. So, it isn’t surprising the UK law is convoluted. By that I mean what it blocks is defined in other laws. If those other laws become more restrictive the impact is hidden while those ‘other’ laws are promoted. Lots of sleight of hand at work.

So, will SL be banned in the UK? Possibly, but we don’t know. I can’t find a trust worthy number for how many SL users are living in the UK. So, I can’t gauge how responsive the Lab will be without knowing how many users they stand to loose. I seeing a change in the SL age verification process is more likely.

What is obvious is as the law goes into effect people will start finding out what they have allowed. Expect some level of public outrage and blow back. Will the Brit’s force their government to revoke the law? We’ll have to wait and see.

There are currently 4.2 million articles about the law, now that it has already passed and is moving into enforcement. Ever wonder why we only hear about this crap after it becomes law? After our chance to easily change it is gone? You gotta love the media.

7 thoughts on “Second Life: Free Speech Ban in UK? No Sex?

  1. It’s already started in SL. In apparent response to outside pressures LL (Linden Lab) has been banning (revoking the accounts of) a lot people recently. Many were long time members and content creators whose products, no deemed unacceptable, have been available for years. There has also been a big crackdown, leading to banning, on people involved in any sort of age play that includes young looking avatars. Folks, these are adults playing with pixel dolls! Most people understand that if it doesn’t involve real minors it isn’t real. Apparently lawmakers in the UK aren’t most people and find any sort of depiction of “unconventional” acts unlawful. As I understand it, the big problem is that LL has servers in the UK, which means that they have now unlawful content in the country, not just that’s it’s available.

    • I doubt LL is banning users because of the UK law. The number of regions they would have to eliminate to comply is currently unknown. It is also too soon for a response. Until the UK does more to define or demonstrate what they mean by unconventional sex, no one is sure what to restrict.

      Content doesn’t really matter of the age verification is adequate, according to the law’s wording. But, we don’t know how the bureaucrats are reading it.

      The Lab has been hard on child avatars in adult play areas for years. If they have received complaints they will act. So that is nothing new. I don’t see any new splash of posts in the SL forum about banning…

      • I can’t give numbers so I won’t argue the point, I can only tell you that recently there has been a noticeable influx of SL members into other worlds, all having been banned recently.

  2. I’ve read the Digital Economy Bill, at least in its current form (it’s just gone to the House of Lords for consideration there) and I can’t see how it catches SL. It’s aimed at video recordings, and I cannot see how SL can be made to fit into any of the definitions contained in Section 3 of the Bill, which is the part that deals with online pornography.

    Even if it did apply to SL, the worst that could happen is that LL might have to beef up their age-verification criteria for UK accounts, but it doesn’t. I know something of English obscenity laws and how to interpret statutes, and I’m confident it doesn’t apply to SL.

    • I haven’t read the text. From the reporting I took away that age verification and enforcement would be an issue.

  3. Perhaps as an American, I’m speaking out of turn, but it should be noted that age play (if that’s what concerns people) was banned by SL years ago. The German government ruled that any depiction of child sex, real or not, was child pornography.

    As for “unconventional” sex acts…. Something odd or “unnatural” to one person might be perfectly normal for another. Here in America, the current political hoo-ha is mostly about transgender and “sexual identity,” even going so far as to mandate what toilets people can use.

    I have no idea what the actual numbers are, but I know I’ve met a lot of people from the UK in Second Life and would think if they all left or were excluded from being able to log in, it would be a significant loss.

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