If Someone Picks Your Pocket In Second Life, Who Do You Blame?
from the that-border-between-virtual-and-real dept
We’ve recently covered a few cases where real world laws end up in virtual worlds due to accusations of theft or fraud. These cases are always problematic, because it’s impossible to know where to draw the boundaries. If a virtual world allows theft, then is it still a crime in real world? Now let’s make this question a little more complicated. Some researchers have discovered that, thanks to a flaw in Apple’s Quicktime, which is used within Second Life, it’s possible to steal money from players within Second Life. This is important, because Second Life money can quickly be converted into US dollars. So, the virtual world “pick pocketing” can have real world implications. However, is it a crime?
Second Life is famous for pitching itself as a world where anything can happen — and you could assume that if it can happen in the virtual world then it’s legitimate activity — or should be dealt with within the confines of the world. Otherwise, you’re opening the door to people in worlds where “thieving” is encouraged or a part of game play accusing others of stealing in real world courts as well. Of course, that does open up the question of whether or not someone is to blame for the lost money here. Some could pin the blame on Second Life — and, in fact, the article above notes that Second Life may need to upgrade its security to be more “bank like.” Some could pin the blame on Apple, who has yet to patch the flaw in Quicktime. Others, of course, might blame users for keeping “valuable” currency in an unsecured environment like Second Life. And, of course, some would blame the person exploiting the security flaw in the first place. The point, though, is that it’s a bit more complex than many would make it out to be, and future scenarios are only going to get more complex.