Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Second Life, online adult games to be banned outright in Australia" - ???

Posted by Bettina Tizzy

JUNE 26 UPDATE: Two posts that are must-reads on this topic:
- Tateru Nino's blogpost "Could Australia be barred from Second Life access?" She continues: "Darn straight they could."
- Lowell Cremorne's "Open Letter on virtual worlds for Senator Conroy"


With his blogpost "Australia to ban Second Life?" Dusan Writer brought my attention to an article in today's Inquisitr "Confirmed: Second Life, online adult games to be banned outright in Australia," and yet another in today's Sydney Morning Herald: "Web filters to censor video games" that outline the Australian Federal government's intent to "block websites hosting and selling video games that are not suitable for 15 year olds."

What might this mean to Second Life® users from Australia? How might they be affected? Would we lose many of the best artists, writers and creators on the Second Life grid: Adam Ramona, Gary Hazlitt, Glyph Graves, Nonnatus Korhonen, Paisley Beebe, Tateru Nino, the entire crew from TREET.TV, the ABC islands, the Pond islands, among many, many others?


Leigh Eel said...

Oh that'd be terrible. I've met some very wonderful people from Aust. via SL, and I can't imagine not seeing them again. The one link, the Inquisitr, looked kinda tabloidish, but the other from the Sydney Herald read pretty legit.. Wouldn't it be easier just to drop the "controversy" and the uber-high moral snobbery than to ban the games?

for Paisley Beebe said...

Don't worry Bettina you haven't see the last of us :) I suspect that its just scare mongering from that particular commentator to point out the ridiculousness of the proposal. We have a lot of people with big investments in SL, even if we are a very small population here..about 15 thousand only.

Its now very easy for the wise Senator to view examples of the good works going on in SL, thru our broadcasts through the various educational endeavors and creative endeavors in SL. No Doubt he hasn't thought this through, I wonder if he even knows it would effect SL and WOW...I personally think the WOW mob would have him for Breakfast if they were included in the bann list, they are huge! there would be far more powerful players on that game and a lot more of them that would haul him over the coals. If the Senator actually didn't amend the legislation to prevent SL and WOW falling into that category and did in-fact block access to it for any time the outrage would be enormous! and he would be pilloried world wide. The pressure on him to back down would be massive.

I also know that between all the Aussie creatives and media people that are high profile here in SL, it would be very very simple to put our case with all the media content we currently produce.

Anyway the premise that we adults and I as a 47 year old cannot protect our oh so innocent selfs from the BDSM folks in SL is just totally outrageous. And really if I want to come into SL and just spend my time fornicating with any object I wanted to except a child, why the hell not!

I have 2 young children 12 and 9 who have never logged onto SL, and I would never let them. Yes I have a filter on my internet, its called being aware of what they are doing on line, watching, paying attention, and educating them about what is ok...and what is not. My kids actually turn off anything too rude of violent they know I will switch them off the Net if I catch them, and I know enough to be able to check history and track their usage without a Net Nanny, the Net Nanny is Me! and you know Im not doing anything more than any parent could do with a very basic understanding of computers. I also don't allow them to watch overly violent or Rude films...If parents didn't use the web and TV as baby sitters..and paid attention to what the kids are wouldn't need a Net Nanny. Net Nanny's are just like a car seat belt, you can teach your kids to drive responsibly and not rely on the Seat belt to be the only thing that protects them.

So yep we will keep an eye on the Good Senator, but Im not really worried about the outcome I'm sure common sense will prevail, I wonder if he would like to come on my show and explain his side of things :)

Juko said...

I agree with Paisley that virtual worlds will probably be allowed, albeit not without a fight. More details on this in the MetaverseJournal, by Lowell Cremorne and Tateru Nino.

The broader issue of internet censorship, and the underlying inadequate classification system for films and games, will continue to be important matters for public debate and hopefully more satisfactory outcomes than Senator Conroy is proposing.

Paisley, it's not such a stretch to have the Senator on your show either - Gary Hayes quotes him in the parliament:

"Senator CONROY—I am familiar with Second Life and how popular it is."

I think it would be great if you had him for breakfast :-)

Alpha Auer said...

Oh dear... As someone from a country which has at times suffered greatly under the yoke of censorship (in our particular case political rather than puritanical), I truly sympathize and wish you all the very very very best of luck!

Pavig Lok said...

Tateru is correct in that SL could (and according to the proposal) _should_ be censored. The proposed law changes are inadequate to fully encompass the complexities of the area they seek to legislate over. Australia however has a long history of creating distinctions between the law as she is written and the law as she is applied.

We have long faced, for example, a 100,000 dollar fine for time shifting a tv program on our VCR, as it constitutes piracy under our law. Nobody has ever been prosecuted for this however as it has always been understood that though technically the thing is illegal, in practice the intent of the perpetrator is not the evil that the law was designed to protect against.

I forsee teething problems as these issues are played out in the courts and parliament but am confident that they'll be resolved in our favor.

However... the problems with this legislation which Tateru mentions are very real. The wholesale censorship of the internet, inadequate ratings, oversight of the censoring body, etc. make for a draconian package which will cause many problems down the track. America's almost religious concept of constitutional free speech means that such a proposal would never wash over there. Similarly the pro censorship British have protections of rights to which this would fall foul.

There will be problems. Tateru is not just scare mongering on this. But well informed is well armed. The biggest threat at the moment is that the public haven't thought through the implications of this legislation.... mainly because the legislation itself isn't well thought out.

The disctinction between handling "objectionable content" and terrorist information which effects national security for example. We all know that whenever terrorism is mentioned, there is an eroding of civil rights. That our gaming could be managed by the same hardline censorship system designed for terrorists gives pause for concern.

Well that's my two cents on the matter.

Bettina Tizzy said...

Pavig, excuse me for not including you in the list of possibly affected here, though I did Twitter it. Does that count? :)

You say, "That our gaming could be managed by the same hardline censorship system designed for terrorists gives pause for concern."

This is particularly troublesome and a hard line to take considering that Australians are the undisputed leaders in virtual "television," and that, through the visionary work of the Australia Council for the Arts, Australian virtual artists have joined the ranks of global leaders in this field on a platform that IS the future, whether Australia participates, or not.

One step forward, many steps back.

Juko said...

Juanita Deharo, who runs the Australian Artists group in SL, has posted two blog posts on the implications of the proposed filtering for art in SL, one as a letter to Senator Conroy with some compelling evidence and questions :-)

Tateru Nino said...

It's update time!

I hinted that there was a more serious problem with the proposed filtering system, and here it is

Juko said...

Also some useful additional comments by Laurel Papworth here:

Australia: Bans, Filters and Government 2.0 Taskforce

Unknown said...

I don't understand why the government of Australia have decide to be banned the online adult games . for me this is a violation of the expression liberty.