Monday, June 29, 2009

Facts not 'smoke' about Australian 'Ban'

Poppy Zabelin, Chair of the International Relations Committee of Relay for Life of Second Life, writes:

Like many others we’ve been concerned about the rumors out there that Second Life is being banned in Australia.
Relay for Life of Second Life is INTERNATIONAL and we would have grave concerns about Second Lifers in any country being excluded from Relay, not to mention the wider ramifications.
The source of the confusion appears to be a story published in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Basically, selected ISP's are trialling a scheme to block access to adult content games.
An internet critic is quoted as saying 'the move to extend the filtering to computer games would place a cloud over online-only games such as World of Warcraft and Second Life, which aren't classified in Australia due to their online nature.
' Now, a ‘cloud’ is NOT the same as an outright ban, although some sources are now saying it IS. The Metaverse Journal responded on June 25 in an open letter to Senator Conroy objecting to the ban, and the Australian Christian Today wrote on Monday June 29 that ‘It was confirmed by Australian Minister for Censorship that online games such as Second Life is banned in the country.
These have been picked up by hundreds of blogs and forums around the world.
There is nothing like checking the facts first.
So Ember Farina, Australian ‘Ambassador’ for RFL of SL and Team Captain of the Friends Fighting Cancer RFL of SL team, who in real life is an Australian firefighter, contacted the office of the Senator in question and spoke with an associate there, and says:
‘It appears to be something related to GAME ratings. SL is not classified as a game at this stage. IF there was a complaint received in the future to the Gaming Commission then it would be addressed but his associate seemed fairly comfortable that it's not an issue in this circumstance.’
Ember went on to say:
‘I asked the Senator's associate if there was anything in writing to support this but there wasn't. As far as the Senator's associate was concerned this only came to light because a newspaper article jumped on it - SL was never mentioned nor targetted by the Senator.’

Linden Labs have yet to comment officially, but the whole thing seems to be a misinterpretation of the Australian government’s ongoing censorship/filtering scheme trying to block extreme violence games and child pornography.

Editors note: Since writing this and sending to us Ms Zabelin has heard from Linden Lab;

From:Peter Gray (Pete Linden)
Hi Poppy,

As far as an official Linden Lab statement on the issue, we can currently confirm that: We have received no indication from the Australian government that it intends to block Second Life.

I hope this is useful.


Talking it over with an Australian friend this morning she expressed surprise at the idea since she did not consider secondlife a 'game' and also told me that the government is considered fairly progressive.
To me it comes across as chinese whispers that have got way out of hand without due cause and of course without all the facts.
Irresponsible reporting can cause a lot of damage and this story could actually cause the senator to look more closely at secondlife now the media storm has started.
Many thanks to Poppy Zabelin for getting the facts on this story and allowing us to publish it here.

Dana Vanmoer


Poppy's Blog:

Sydney Morning Herald


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