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Real Crimes Against Children Reported In Second Life

Linden Lab, the company that develops and operates Second Life, says it will work with authorities to help bring the virtual and real-life pedophiles to justice.

Many users -- known as "residents" in Second Life jargon -- pay a few U.S. dollars per hour for cybering with a virtual escort. Virtual strip clubs, nude beaches and orgy rooms are popular destinations in Second Life.

Another popular activity in Second Life is "ageplay," where residents sculpt their avatars to resemble children, and engage in child-like activities: Playing on playgrounds, and so forth. Some of the ageplay community engages in simulated sex. The ratio of non-sexual to sexual ageplay is about 50/50, according to an interview with a leader in the Second Life ageplay community, published on the blog the Second Life Herald in January.

Linden Lab said late Friday it plans to institute age verification in Second Life., designed to keep children off the main area -- known in Second Life jargon as the "grid." Linden Lab runs two Second Life services: The main one, from which people under age 18 are supposed to be barred, and Teen Second Life, open only to 13-18-year-olds. There is no part of Second Life where teens and their parents can use the service together.

Age verification would not have stopped the incidents ARD describes, since there were no children alleged to have been active on Second Life while involved in those activities.

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Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
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John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
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