Cyber crime on Second Life27/06/2007 Written by Boris Mutina (minor)
People often see everyday life as a real challenge: leaving the bed and going to the office could be even unbearable, so that someone could choose not to go out at all and meet friends, go shopping, make money on Second Life.
For those who are not usual Second Life– goers: Second Life is 3D virtual world. You can join it, create your new personality and your new physical aspect, walk, fly, have fun with friends… you can buy a land, and you can also make virtual money that you can then transfer to real money. Online…
As Second Life creators at LindenLab stated on SL homepage: “there are as many opportunities for innovation and profit in Second Life as in the Real World. Open a nightclub, sell jewelry, become a land speculator”. Importance of SL was soon understood by many. Just two examples for all: Sweden opened a virtual embassy and Microsoft promoted Visual Studio in SL.
Talking about business opportunities we point out, in general, that big Companies basically promote their products in SL, whereas small companies and individuals tries to do business in the virtual world so to earn real money.
Unfortunately, for any virtual or real occasion to make money, there is a criminal looking for the method to take advantage of it by all means.
So it can happen that if you work as a designer and you sell your creations in SL, you could see all your works stolen and sold by someone else in some other corner of Second Life.
In such case you can block this crime by asking SL to ban the thief from the virtual community, and then suing him or her for violating copyright laws. The main difficulty in a similar case, anyway, is to discover the crime and its perpetrator since SL is composed by 8 millions of users and the community keeps growing. This means that you could never realize that someone else was exploiting your work.
Similar risks aren’t the only ones conveyed by SL’s width. Just imagine this scenario: virtual real estate agency offers a lot of land which could be pretty expensive for normal users. There is one user who can buy the land and will make the payment by transferring virtual money which would be then changed into real money. But since moving big amounts of money could be risky, the transaction would be fragmented into many small money-transfers. Huge amounts of money moved from a user to another, in small and apparently innocuous rates…a good medium for money laundering or terrorists’ found raising.
Identity stealth is another problem, which has been already discovered in Second Life. It has been already reported by a blogger who described what happened to a second life player who was swindled in a real estate deal by someone who had stolen another players identity for a Pay-Pal transaction. The partial or full degree of anonymity offered by SL, can be a lurk also for other crimes whose motif is not making money. How would you avoid sexual child abuse in SL? It can remain undiscovered like it happens now on the Internet, where only groups of “interested people” can get the access to hidden places, protected by effective passwords, where pedo-pornographic material is displayed.
German TV broadcasted a Reportage showing how a group of pedophiles paid for having virtual sex with virtual children. According to law, child pornography is punished with jail and also at Linden Lab, SL creator, stated that they have zero tolerance for child Pornography, offering full collaboration to detect the perpetrators of similar crimes.
To solve the problem on ” how it is possible to commit a virtual rape” a Belgian court in Brussels , involved in a trial against a man accused of virtual paedophilia , started cooperation with the Federal Computer Crime Unit.
So many abuses highlight the number of possibilities given by SL to live a virtual existence, not only for common users but also for cyber criminals. A specific Abuse team has been set up to ban malicious users but it’s still not enough. Like in the case reported by German TV, the only chance to discover and wipe off this kind of crimes is to count on the help of other users.
But once criminals are caught? A specific regulation defining what is allowed and what is not in the virtual world, is strongly needed.