Via Dennis Hamilton, a pointer to a new experiment at Second Life:
We will shortly begin beta testing an age and identity verification system, which will allow Residents to provide a one-time proof of identity (such as a driverâ€™s license, passport or ID card) and have that identity verified in a matter of moments.
Second Life has always been restricted to those over 18. All Residents personally assert their age on registration. When we receive reports of underage Residents in Second Life, we close their account until they provide us with proof of age. This system works well, but as the community grows and the attractions of Second Life become more widely known, weâ€™ve decided to add an additional layer of protection.
Once the age verification system is in place, only those Residents with verified age will be able to access adult content in Mature areas. Any Resident wishing to access adult content will have to prove they are over 18 in real life.We have created Teen Second Life for minors under the age of 18. Access to TSL by adults is prohibited, with minors not allowed into the rest of Second Life.
For their part, land owners will be required to flag their land as â€˜adultâ€™ if it contains adult content using the estate and land management tools provided to landowners. This flag will protect landowners from displaying inappropriate content to underage users who may have entered Second Life. Landowners are morally and legally responsible for the content displayed and the behavior taking place on their land. The identity verification system gives them new tools to ensure any adult content is only available to adults over 18 because unverified avatars will not have access to land flagged as containing adult content.
We hope youâ€™ll agree that the small inconvenience of doing this once is far outweighed by the benefits of protecting minors from inappropriate content. Further, this system will assist landowners in engaging in lawful businesses.
The verification system will be run by a third party specializing in age and identity authentication. No personally identifying information will be stored by them or by Linden Lab, including date of birth, unless the Resident chooses to do so. Those who wish to be verified, but remain anonymous, are free to do so.
The idea of presenting a passport to get into an imaginary adult establishment strikes me as nutso. I must be missing a gene. It is certainly a conundrum, this virtual world.
I think that rather than adopting this one-off inspector approach, outfits like Second Life and all the other big web sites should get together to accept registration claims from whatever identity providers would fully guarantee both accuracy and the anonymity of their users. Information Cards combined with the anonymous credential technology developed by people like Stefan Brands would provide the ideal solution.