Tag: law

Dutch tolerance has it limits

by on Feb.21, 2007, under Virtual Worlds

A majority of The lower house(tweede kamer) in the Netherlands and the public prosecutor want legal action against virtual child porn, or as is it often called Age Play. Virtual child porn with images that are lifelike is already illegal, but now investigation has started to see how laws should be applied to environments like SL, where graphics are not(yet) life like.

Reuters and Menno already reported about it earlier.

It is interesting how this will turn out. Some claim that because it is virtual it shouldn’t be prosecuted and the child in question is likely a adult in RL. Others wonder where the line will be drawn, will virtual speeding in GTA be a crime as well? It could be a slippery slope and in someways equals a thought crime.

They add that it would be better to use the funds and manpower to fight/prevent child-abuse in RL. I think one can’t be watchful enough if it comes to child abuse even virtual. It could very realistically lead to real abuse.

J. Buschman who works as a psychologist for the Mesdag clinic in Groningen, said that Second life is per definition a “learning school for pedophiles” and he fears that virtually having sex with children will result in sexual child abuse in the real world.

What is a interesting aspect is how proof can be gathered to prosecute someone. All avatars have a high level of anonymity, a prosecutor first have to have proof that a avatar is a Dutch citizen and then has to request RL information from LL. It would be strange if they could request information on US citizens for instance.

But also the other way around, if someone is arrested for related crimes, and their computer is confiscated. I doubt much proof of age-play will be on the computer, if you have logging of your chat off, I would say there wouldn’t be any proof.

Also added to that, in the US this isn’t illegal at all, and I’m not sure if LL could be forced to provide the RL information.

In the United States, where Second Life creator Linden Lab is based, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law in 2002 which would have banned computer-generated images that depict minors engaged in sexual conduct.

But how ever this turns out legally, it is a good thing attention is being put on to it. Even if legally nothing can be done, research in it can only help confirm or deny claims that it will result in RL abuse. And it could lead to early warning system to stop abusers.

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