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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

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Danielle

Remember how you downplayed the importance of this topic a few blog posts back? Well the discussion on Redzone on Second Life Universe / General Discussion is now the longest thread ever with over 7000 posts:

http://www.sluniverse.com/php/vb/general-sl-discussion/47314-zf-redzone-disclosure-secondlife-alts.html

It's now reached 5th place among all JIRA issues ever:

https://jira.secondlife.com/secure/IssueNavigator.jspa?sorter/field=votes&sorter/order=DESC

The last time I saw this much resident interest in a topic was the Adult Content debate just under two years ago.

The real subject is "Resident privacy in an era when the SL viewer and your account information are increasingly linked to other locations online". That includes media, search, and links to social sites. Scraping IP addresses into a database is just one part of this larger issue.

Hamlet Au

"how you downplayed the importance"

Not exactly: I questioned how *widespread* the controversy was. I'm still skeptical about that. The JIRA and blog/forum activity definitely shows intense interest by a subset of SL users, but that's not necessarily the same thing. My original post on Redzone isn't even the most read on the blog, more readers are interested in Kinect for SL.

That said, the Redzone issue is definitely important enough to warrant this new post.

Adeon Writer

So can I get in trouble for mentioning to a friend that someone sounds like the same person as someone else on voice? Where do you draw the line? Most alts are just to obvious.

Marx Dudek

@Adeon: That would be a personal opinion.

"Person A and Person B are both connecting to the Vivox servers from the same IP" would not.

Arcadian Vanalten

So, no longer for sale on SLX, but does that mean not allowed in-world at all?
Specifically, can other sales channels still supply RZ? And are the existing RZ devices in-world still active, or are they disabled?

Good riddance if it is, by the way. I will shed no tears over the loss of one more stalker tool. My RL info, including ISP, is MY identity and none of anyone else's business. Your nosiness does not trump my right to privacy.

I've worked w/ victims, stalkers, and indeed, have been stalked before myself in RL, and stalkers always have a justification or reason why their invasive interests trump their victims' rights, regardless of how much distress it causes the victim. THis would be an ideal toy for SL stalkers to take it to the next level. There's at least one add-on app I've seen on SLX (or Xstreet, or marketplace, or whatever we're supposed to call it this week) that promises the ability to geo-locate available ISP's in RL. WHether it reliably does as advertised or not, the prospect is chilling.

Had no idea this vile thing existed until last week, but I'm pretty horrified by it. I was seriously debating packing in my SL entirely and permanently this week.

Marx Dudek

Also, this is the second time that RedZone has been removed by Linden Lab. It was restored after zFire Xue claimed to recode the device to make it compliant with the new Community Standards.

However, I'm guessing that it's not. And many statements he made on his own forum would seem to underscore that suspicion.

Adeon Writer

@Marx Thanks for the clarification. That sounds entirely fair.

@Hamlet I would assume that non-disclosed discovery of alts (even by IP) would nof constitute "sharing" as that would force things such as local music streaming servers to be disallowed.

Nine Warrhol

Nice move LL! This shows that you are at least listening to your customers. THANK YOU!!!!

Marx Dudek

@Arcadian: I'm sure that if it is, LL will make a clear and definitive announcement to that effect.

The question is, what happens to the data already collected by the creator - data that he has been collecting for nearly a year now? He has allegedly said at one point that if LL were to ban RedZone, he would make his existing database available on the web.

Joshua Philgarlic

1. RZ is still available inworld.
2. According to my GreenZone HUD the system is still active.

So, where's the sense of just removing it from Marketplace? If people like to get it, they still can!

Danielle

@ Hamlet - I see parallels to how the Adult Content discussion played out. At first there was intense discussion on the Forums by engaged residents, then it spread to the general population by the "Second Life Social Network". That is friends talking to friends, passing of notecards, group notices, signs in shops, etc. All the ways that SL residents connect to each other.

Several of the third party viewers have added or are adding a "media filter" patch, so we can be aware when some object is trying to make your viewer connect to an external location. Then you can *choose* to allow or deny it. Many of the Redzone devices were hidden, and the scanning of visitors was hidden, so this type of patch at least warns you of what's going on.

Inara Pey

Congrats, Hamlet.

Only a week behind things now.

And you may not view your initial report as "downplaying", but overall it came across as somewhat dismissive of the entire situation.

Hamlet Au

"overall it came across as somewhat dismissive of the entire situation"

That wasn't my intent but I can see how it could be read that way -- in retrospect I would have written it differently.

Ezra

I'm against automated revealing of alts, but the phrasing there makes it sound as if I could lose my account if I casually go "Oh yeah that's so and so."

Privacy is fine, but there's a lot of people wandering around in-world taking their anonymity way too seriously given Second Life is a social platform.

A right to consent to sharing one's identities before they're revealed is one thing, enabling Batman like behavior where people are wandering around selectively revealing who their alts are and saddling those who don't care, like me, with the responsibility of knowing if the alts are secret identities or not is an entirely different hassle.

Anyway, this is a win for privacy and anonymity in Second Life, but if I'm reading it right, it sounds like something that's going to result in a fraction of folks on our friend lists updating their profiles with personal TOS on alt revelation policies. Kinda like the personal IM logging policies we come across.

Sling Trebuchet

Good luck with getting LL to explain "sharing"

Back on February 25th I posted in 'that' JIRA
===============================================
Sling Trebuchet added a comment - 25/Feb/11 6:25 AM

"Residents are entitled to a reasonable level of privacy with regard to their Second Life experience. Sharing personal information......"

What's this "sharing" exactly?

Is it confined to chat, notecard and IM in-world - between avatars only?
Does it encompass chat and IM from an object?
Does it encompass the harvesting of information into a system (even an off-world system) that is designed to discover information not disclosed in profiles?
===============================================

You can't measure the importance of something by the number of people who are aware of it.
Well, OK, you can, but only if your interest is in selling advertising.

"Controversies" are for the chattering classes.
"Principles" are for good investigative journalism.

Arcadian Vanalten

@ Ezra, those personal TOS things don't fly, though. You can SAY you have claimed a right to violate someone's privacy, but that doesn't make it so. You can also claim you have a right to someone else's property b/c you like it, but you're still gonna get nabbed for theft. THose "personal TOS" guys still get booted. Seen it happen.

Sling Trebuchet

As ever, the interesting question is:

If something is taken off Marketplace because it violates TOS/CS, why are instances of it allowed to remain rezzed on the grid?

Ezra

@Sling

It's fair for Linden Lab to give people time to comply with new policy rather than immediately take action against them. Since this policy is new, all offending owners of rezzed RedZone objects using probably have some length of time to comply before Linden Lab will do anything to them.

Carter Giacobini

I personally believe that if someone's alt is revealed, so what? Almost everyone I know has alts and no one I know uses those alts for anything sinister. And, if you are using your alts for something sinister - YAY! that there is a way for people to be able to protect themselves against you.

What does trouble me is the possible disclosure of where my IP address is in RL. I don't even like when my friends accidentally slip up during the course of regular conversation and say what city I'm in, much less an exact IP address location.

All that being said, I have to say that I own a Redzone for my sim. Did I purchase one because I was concerned about griefers? No... Did I purchase to find out if so-and-so was an alt of so-and-so? Hell, yes. Did I use it to double check if someone I was dating had other alts that I wasn't told about? Hell, yes.

For me, I would be totally ok with an alt detector if there was no way for my RL location to be disclosed to the crazies. Obviously, I know that isn't possible. And, knowing that my RL info can be given out makes me think that the Redzone needs to be banned. Yes, I'll have to go back to the old days of actually trusting people, again... But, I think I'll be able to find away... :-D

Sling Trebuchet

@Carter
What if you had to create an alt to escape someone sinister? Would you like them to have an alt-tracking facility? Hell No!

Adeon Writer

@Sling: Of course not. So you'd make sure you don't give them the ability to make the connection. Because as long as they're not *disclosing* that information to others, they're not violating ToS. LL gives you a reasonable ability to make it absolutely impossible for them to do.

Ciaran Laval

I'm not really sure what the issue is with LL removing this device, it is abusing the media features, that alone should be enough to have the creator and users of the system slapped.

Redzone users should have used this period to campaign for better tools to deal with ban lists, I'd like to see LL encourage us to link our alts under one account name and the option to ban by avatar or account on land, no need for anyone but LL to know who those alts are.

Carter Giacobini

@Sling - Thankfully, I've never had to do that. But, I can totally understand where you're coming from on that.

@Ciaran - I've never understood why it Estate Ban List doesn't give you an option to ban at the IP Address level. That would save so much grief (pardon the pun) for everyone. I used to have an island that got griefed by neo-nazi's on a fairly regular basis and I would be willing to bet money that many of those different avatars were used by the same RL person.

Adeon Writer

@Carter As has been said countless times, LL does not, will not, and never should allow ban by IP address as IP addresses are neither permenent nor unique.

That is to say, one person uses many IP addresses, and one IP address is used by many people.

Adeon Writer

@Carter (It should also be clearly obvious that allowing ban by IP would make it super easy to figure out alts anyway. Just ban and watch who else vanishes.)

Carter Giacobini

@Adeon - what about those accounts that have been banned by LL at the IP address level?

Adeon Writer

@Charter: That's because LL can see the IP address, and know if it's a college dorm, library, home network, etc. They also know all of the IP's that avatar has been using, and have a nice little map of what IP's it has in common with other accounts, and they can use this to make an informed decision on wither or not an IP ban would result in innocent bans. Such tools could never be provided to regular residents, so the only result would be you'd end up banned from someone's land just because you have Comcast internet.

Carter Giacobini

@Adeon - do you personally track every single person that comes and goes from a public sim? Even if it's yours? If I did that for the public sims I've owned, that would be a full time job in itself.

Inara Pey

"That wasn't my intent but I can see how it could be read that way -- in retrospect I would have written it differently."

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, Hamlet - but no substitute for actually researching that of which you write.

You can try mark it up howsoever you like, but your article demonstrated very little in the way of research or investigation on the matter. As such, it has damaged your credibility among readers in the process.

Hopefully, lesson learned.

Nalates Urriah


I agree with Hamlet. The interest in RedZone is less than the interest in many other things. RedZone comes in 22nd in my blog stats (Google Analytics). WebKit is #1, but I suspect that is from people other than SL residents as the bounce rate is high, 60%. #2 is the Ascent viewer. I have no explanation for why it rates so high for a discontinued viewer. The bounce rate is only 36%. Avatar render problems and the Firestorm viewer are far more interesting to SL residents.

I do believe RedZone is a problem that has been under the radar. Until just recently I was unaware of the problem. Those readers of my blog that IM and email me were also unaware of it.

I am seeing different responses from SL/LL than in the past or at least a change in response time. There may actually be someone at LL that understands PR. May be someone learned from Emerald Scandal. Whatever the case, I think they were trying to stay ahead of this scandal. A privacy outrage now could put pressure on LL about their 'socialization plans' for SL.

@Carter – "Almost everyone I know has alts and no one I know uses those alts for anything sinister." It isn’t a matter sinister in most cases. It’s more a matter of freedom. Some residents experiment with lifestyles that would be hard to explain to friends and employers. In the case of employers such revelations could be seriously damaging. Not everyone is socially tolerant… So, while I appreciate the Court finding for free speech I find the Westboro Churches miss use of that especially repugnant. But, the Westboro’s do make my point that that not all is warm fuzzies on this planet.

Alexandra Rucker

Hamlet wrote:
"...The JIRA and blog/forum activity definitely shows intense interest by a subset of SL users, but that's not necessarily the same thing...."

As someone who's dealt with users in a technical support setting, and as someone who's gone through the JIRA a few times, I can tell you that your statements are disregarding one important characteristic:

The JIRA is a pain in the A$$ for anyone who's not technically minded. Statistically speaking, that may be a small subset of the general population - but do you have statistics of the entirety of the general population actually USING the JIRA on a regular basis? Because I'm betting you'd find out that this "small proportion" is actually a LARGE portion of regular JIRA users.

Ann Otoole InSL

Devices collecting data about other users without consent remain in violation of the SL TOS Section 8.3(i). And they are still doing so. And not just redzone. Not over yet.

LL must remove the lsl function that enables the harvesting or collection of data without consent. And put their lawyer to work on getting the data back to destroy it.

As for Soft removing a vendor? There are redzone stores all over SL. If soft wants to do that then he better figure out how to deal with that. It is a complicated thing.

Foneco Zuzu

My Ip server is not fixed.
That means that the same ip adress can be used by several ppl.
In more then 10 years with same provider i got banned twice from foruns that tracked Ip's
On both times Provider informed that by a mere coincidence, that chances of happening where less then 1 million, another user from same ip provider logged after to same foruns using same ip.
It happened twice already and the situation was only calrified after the isp provider answered by email.
Thats due to Isp being dynamic and random, still the less then 1 million chances thats 2 diff users connect to same obscure forum, happened!

So tracking and bannin Ip's not only is useless but also fullish to say the minimum, as most isp providers are dynamic and ony a few can support to have fixed ip's
at least on the country where i live.


Tateru Nino

@Ann

"LL must remove the lsl function that enables the harvesting or collection of data without consent."

That's all Web-access from the client, and all support for parcel media (audio and video) and all shared media (of all types).

There's not actually any specific LSL function involved. In fact, you can do most of it without any LSL at all.

Ann Otoole InSL

@tateru: The issue is not that. The issue is user preferences for privacy can be overridden by certain LSL calls. LL needs to remove those calls since there appears to be no purpose for them other than harvesting data about other users without consent.

As for all media? Expect the number of people that never enable media to climb and render all that time, work, and money by LL, that could have been used for good, moot. I used to have video displays to show products via youtube but because of certain vulnerabilities related to youtube I removed them out of respect for my visitors. They can "opt in" by visiting my youtube channel if they like. I'm not promoting it anymore.

Then there remains the issue of all the data the harvesters and collectors pulled in without consent in violation of TOS Section 8.3(i). Specifically the use of the subject LSL calls that allow them to harvest the IP address combined with the agent name together for a solid correlation to an IP address.

The issue is not over yet.

Adeon Writer

The calls in question also make in-world TV's work, so expect them to break for the billionth time when it (let's be specific here, any scripter can tell you that the call being abused is llParcelMediaCommandList) is removed/nerfed.

Arcadia Codesmith

A ban-by-IP function isn't perfect and might result in some innocents being banned.

So what?

If "ban by IP" is made available, bump up the permit list to take priority and allow manually unbanning by avatar name. That solves the false positive problem.

Being banned from a parcel will not cause hair loss, weight gain, or sterility. It doesn't go on your permanent record. It's not a deadly insult to your personal honor or parentage. It's just a ban. Sometimes it's arbitrary. I ban people who look at me funny. Deal with it.

Adeon Writer

As I said before resident indiced Ban-by-IP is an awesome tool figuring out alts. When Linden feels like shooting themselves in the foot I'm sure they'll implement it.

Ev

@Carter.. Thanks for showing the other side of this. I also purchased redzone.

My reason was very specific; a terrifying stalker who was incredibly threatening. The whole stalker thing goes both ways; as a victim, it helped me to identify and secure my private SL space (my parcel) from those I was truly scared of. I will admit I discovered some interesting things about my friends, but NEVER did I disclose or use that information. My goal was purely self-protection, not invasion of other's experience. I'd also like to add that the person who stalked me ended up with bans on another 6 sims and a very negative community rating due to harassment and threats. *that* was the value in it for me. I was told I should have reported them, frankly, I was so freaked out I was too scared to, in the event that it resulted in further repercussions on me. I truly wish we could ban all the alts somehow if we banned one; that would satisfy me; I really didn't need to know everyone else's.

I'd also like to add for those concerned about the units rezzed inworld at this point; I can see who's been on my land, but the alt-reveal function is now disabled, and is on a pure opt-in basis. So, unless someone took the time to note YOU and all your alts (I never bothered), it's lost information at this point - at least as far as I can tell.

Ann Otoole InSL

@Adeon - and if LL made it so that function respected privacy settings then TVs would keep working while harvesters that hammer people who opted out would get no prize. Fair solution?

Ciaran Laval

@Ev and just what had your friends whom you found out interesting facts about done to deserve being on the Redzone database? That's why the tool is wrong, it has no business sharing that information.

Arcadian Vanalten

And were your friends aware that you know all those interesting things? Do they know yet that they've been violated by you thusly? That's the other part about it...notification that you're being scanned is an optional feature. There's no way to know who's scanned you and is cross-referencing and tracking you down; it doesn't have to even warn you that you're being snooped by some peeping freak.

You may have only had experience with happy, healthy, and well-adjusted trustworthy people here in SL, but I've run across a lot of people who I wouldn't voluntarily trust w/ my personal info. SL has a lot of wonderful, funny and fantastic people I'd be thrilled to be RL friends with as well, but it also has a lot of scary stalker types and disordered personalities.

I still reserve the right and responsibility to decide for myself who, if anyone, gets any RL info about me, and at this point, TOS and community standards support that. LL needs to step up and make sure that's upheld, or at least let us know that's no longer a reasonable expectation so we can bail.

Emperor Norton

Ev @ "The whole stalker thing goes both ways; as a victim, it helped me to identify and secure my private SL space (my parcel) from those I was truly scared of. "

You were scared of another _avatar_, how utterly melodramatic of you. Gee, and was to hard to set your parcel to "group only" access or switch to a 7" male avatar when the stalker showed up- is that your justification of your violation of your friend's privacy?

Rawst Berry

@Carter Giacobini
You may think that sharing alt information is innocent, but its not your decision to make for other people what information should be shared. One of my friends had to make a new account because of a stalker.

@Ciaran Laval
Griefers obviously would not link their alts. Neither would anyone else who wants to hide them.

LL needs to find better ways to detect and automatically ban people using copybot viewers, so that users don't "take the law into their own hands" like redzone tried to do. If the problem is just general griefing on your land, that is incredibly easy to deal with by using autoreturn or disabling scripts.

Also.. I'm finding it amusing that the Alphaville Herald got to this story before Hamlet. But considering how slanted and fluffy NWN is lately maybe it's appropriate that it got scooped by a tabloid.

Ciaran Laval

@Rawst Berry, of course griefers wouldn't link their alts, but LL would notice a lot of accounts logging in from the same IP address, which would right away signify suspicious behaviour, as it stands now, people have legitmately been able to get more than five accounts, LL haven't been sharp in enforcing that rule and for a while it didn't seem to be enforced at all.

Ann Otoole InSL

To bring this article up to date:

zFire and his crew are all missing from Secondlife. The redzone store was dismantled by LL. The authorities took his illegal pet raccoon away irl.

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