Saturday, June 24, 2006

Big Scary Protest

There are surprising few these days who have the practical sense to accept that as a rule of thumb, rules are often broken. In the network world we have the saying, "never trust the client;" such a rule resonates throughout our culture... we're taught to be mistrusting people.

Somehow despite this ingrained idea, there remains a strong contingent of people who are still so naive as to believe that people follow rules. They're naive to believe that security measures work. The simple fact that they cannot fathom is that every rule can be broken and no security measure is ever in the least bit bullet-proof.

I am of course referring to the recent protests in Second Life regarding Linden Lab's recent decision to remove the billing information requirement from the registration process. Wether a smart move or not, it remains to be seen -- though the backlash is absolutely incredible. It appears to be a smart move in this writer's opinion since the basic Second Life account is free... so why bother registering a credit card?

The main argument of the majority of protestors believe that credit card registrations block the under 18 crowd from accessing an adults-only service. They fear that these teenagers will be exposed to content that is morally and legally questionable to show to a minor. Of course they also fear children themselves -- recollecting nightmares of the pot-smoking, bubble-gum chewing rebels terrorizing the neighbour's dog... coming now to invade their virtual life that had previously been so safe from their inane behaviour.

Guess what folks? You might even be great friends in SL with a minor and not even know it. Like it has been said by many other residents aside from myself: minors have been in SL even before the teengrid. Many I imagine are still on the main SL grid regardless of the cute little playground Linden Lab has offerred them to keep the child-fearing adults happy.

Let's at least try to understand teenagers... once they hit around 12 years old, children will try to get in as much trouble as they can. They will start to expose themselves to sex, drugs, and everything the horrible world can throw their way. They will find their way into it no matter what you do. If they want something, they'll find a way hands down.

I know I did.

So if you think credit card registrations actually do stop minors, you're trusting the client. You'll have to re-think your concepts of the security of the world. You might have to come to grips with the fact that while teenagers are annoying and not very aware of the world -- they are curious and you'll have to understand them. They shouldn't be in SL and personally, I don't want them in SL either. We have some tools to help us weed them out if we find them. Perhaps instead of wanting a broken system back, we should be thinking out better reporting tools or social structures to assist us in keeping SL the 18+ environment we've come to enjoy.


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