Australia To Ban Second Life

Australia to ban Second Life? This is been reported today under Conroy’s new Censorship Rules http://tinyurl.com/lz8f8x

The Australian Minister for Censorship has today confirmed what has been reported for nearly two years: online adult games including Second Life will be banned in Australia.

A spokesman for Censorship Minister Stephen “Goebbels” Conroy confirmed to Fairfax newspapers that “under the filtering plan, it will be extended to downloadable games, flash-based web games and sites which sell physical copies of games that do not meet the MA15+ standard.” In Australia, the MA15+ rating means that the content is restricted to those aged 15 and above. Australia does not have a R 18+ or similar rating for computer games, with all adult games automatically being classified as RC (Refused Classification.)

About Lesley Dewar

Author / Networker I write stories that educate and entertain 7-12 yo children. Love Social Media, Haiku, Free writing, Travel, Parenting, Marine Life, Environmental issues, Networking. Publish eBooks online like http://networkingtoaplan.com
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43 Responses to Australia To Ban Second Life

  1. Sebastian says:

    Urgh, not one but TWO URL shortening services used…!

    Expand the URLS out man.

    Shocking news though… nerf Australia!

  2. Lesley Dewar says:

    You must have come through Twitter or a similar service – where the URL’s are automatically shortened. I agree, the news is shocking. Censorship in Australia is going to be as bad as that in Iran, shortly.

  3. Sebastian says:

    I’m visiting again, and without a Twitter referral, and they’re still shortened… I guess it uses cookies or something. Ugh :)

    Australia has always been fairly draconian when it comes to civil liberties. Not sure why; I don’t understand their society enough to make an educated guess.

    Think it’s unfair to compare to Iran — this smells more like a lack of understanding on behalf of the government, a common theme when it comes to the topic of video games. In 5 or 10 years when most members of parliament around the world were brought up with computers, things will be different :)

  4. Lesley Dewar says:

    When I compare to Iran, I am thinking of the way that Australian politicians are cracking down on free speech all over the place – top civil servants not allowed to comment; FOI applications being restricted – because they started to be fairly priced; Conroy is only using “protecting children” as an excuse to restrict and reduce our access to free information. The Australian Press is so in the pockets of the politicians they have been suffocated over the past ten years. Best book I have read in ages? Silencing Dissent in Australia – The Howard Years. And now, the Labor party is as bad or worse. It’s not about a lack of understanding – it ‘s about a lack of tolerance for dissenting points of view and the right to express them (which, technically under our Constitution) we do not have. Not in the same way that Americans have “Freedom Of Speech”.

    I don’t personally use computer games or second life – and I spend too much time in cyberspace in any event. LOL. But I despise politicians who hide behind the skirts of children to push their personal ideas of political correctness – when their objectives are far removed from their stated aims. In 5 or 10 years, things will be very different and we will have greater losses of personal freedom to worry about than Second Life. Because, the MP’s of then will have seen and enjoyed the power that comes with restricting and controlling others. All pigs are born equal – just some are born more equal than others!

  5. Me says:

    That’s ridiculous. Australia is a great country and big deal if Second Life is banned. Get a first life Lesley and stop being so paranoid.

    REPLY (Because the comments and the replies all got out of sync)

    You are so funny – I don’t exist in Second Life – never have, never will. My first life is too busy! However, if you take the time to read books such as “Silencing Dissent” you will find that Australia has been gradually reducing freedom of expression and activity over the past ten to fifteen years. I am not paranoid. I am old enough to remember the infamous 54B rule in Western Australia

    #quote May 7 1980 Daily News clipping which provides some insight on his attitude towards civil rights.Forrest Place ban to stay
    The ban on public meetings stays, says the Premier, Sir Charles Court.
    “We have got no intention of altering the present arrangements either in respect of Forrest Place or in respect of the law of assembly,” he said… Thirty-three people were arrested at an unauthorised rally in Forrest Place on Saturday. The rally was called to protest against Section 54B of the Police Act and other legislation affecting civil rights. The Premier said: “We believe we have the best law of assembly in the whole of Australia.”

    Section 54B, of course, meant that a gathering of more than three people in WA was illegal. You had to get the permission of the Police Commissioner to do so. Source http://tinyurl.com/oflr6p (Thanks, Cookster – I knew I could rely on you as a source)

  6. Shelli Teebrook says:

    As a regular player of second life …what are these people thinking !!! they cant ban it they obviously dont realize how many people play this game

    REPLY because the comments and the replies all got out of sync
    It’s a problem with Australia’s censorship categories and for Conroy, it’s easier to just ban that change the legislation. He has been trying to get very restrictive internet access laws through the parliament ever since Rudd got elected.

  7. Arta says:

    They should deny whole internet :)
    … and keep the people in darkness. This is their benefit

    REPLY because the posts and the replies all got out of sync:

    Agreed. And they foolishly won’t learn that even Iran can’t keep the truth hidden.

  8. bauwolf says:

    i feel the austraian government is trying to stop all of the free speech we have sl is a great game of skills and roleplay,,,we biuld script and some even make money from these skills ,,, if you bann this game i can see a grewat up raw and the goverment to be not voted back in

    REPLY because the comments and the replies all got out of sync:

    The Government is cleverly linking sex with Second Life as its reason for wanting to ban it. They don’t care about how many people use it and if it’s role playing you want to see, just watch Question Time in the Australian Federal Parliament one night. The greatest (or worst) actors you are every likely to see in first life – maybe there’s something to be said for second life, after all.

  9. Kristian says:

    Taking SL (Second Life) away from the many Australians over 18+ that play it is a taking away our choice to choose!
    What are they going to do next, tell us when to breath, s@#t, shower and shave?
    Forbidding Australians to play SL is like trying to take porn of the net. It will never happen!!!

    REPLy because the comments and the replies all go out of sync:

    Liking SL to porn is how they think they can stop Australians from playing. The logistic of it escape me – but I am too smart to be a federal politician. (I did get asked, but declined, just to put the story on the record!)

  10. Richard Phillips says:

    As a U.S. citizen i was shocked to see Australia has a Minister of Censorship?!? Who else has that position in their government. . . . China . . . .Iran . . . . Saudi Arabia . . . Myramar??

    REPLY – because the comments and the replies all got out of sync:

    Interesting – I hadn’t actually thought of Conroy’s title in the fullest sense, but yes, he is the Minister Of Censorship! Hmm, who else had that job? I remember Goebbels – but he was Minister for Propaganda. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Goebbels)

    A google search for [“Minister of Censorship” -Conroy – Australian -Australia] revealed only Somalia, Palestine, and Prussia (between 1806 and 1848) have officially named such positions. It seems that Australia is in great company when considering freedom of speech. Ireland, effectively used Frank Aiken in the same role during World War II – but he didn’t get the full title. Search Wikipedia for the same and there is no other entry – except the Shadow Minister – because the Opposition must have a Shadow Minister

    Search Google for {”Minister for censorship’ -conroy -australia – australian} and you get nothing. So, Conroy is almost unique is the whole political world. Isn’t that something for Australia to be proud of!

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  12. Forrester McLeod says:

    Why oh Why? I’m not a second lifer and have only learned in the past couple of days what that means…..

    Please tell me Australia’s not buying into the crazy American court system “I shot my parents because of a role playing game” bullsh@*!

    And I must say….you have the sweetest smile!

    Cheers…

    REPLY Because the comments and the replies all got out of sync:
    Thanks for the compliment on the smile. I like that! I, too, am not a second lifer – but you are right to be concerned about what this censorship means to Australian’s free speech.

  13. Sweet says:

    I read the article it is nothing more than a “proposed Censorship” at this time and would expect it to be as credible as any governement and that is no credability at all. I would pay no little attention to such a foolish proposal. Obviously one which was given little thought while the politician was flirting with a stray cat or wombat.

    Something I do find interesting is the Australian Government OWNS some linden land called the ABC. Staff from the Australian broadcasting commission frequently enjoy and use Sl. Staff also give wonderful Television Segments on Secondlife which encourages many Australians to join and spend BIG DOLLAR.

    So does this mean the Australian government is allowed to spend money PLAYING an adult game with Australian TAX dollars OMFG. Perhaps someone should send a postcard to the Australian governement with all of US waving from the ABC LAND on Secondlife….. ANyone want to join me in 6 person ORGY on top of the ABC builing located ON LINED LAND?

    REPLY because the comments and the replies all got out of sync:

    You can also log into Second Life through Telstra’s main page – because it is a serious business venture. Maybe we should remind this profligate Goverment that we (sorry, they) need every tax dollar they can get. Don’t ban it – just tax it! If I ever get to Second Life (unlikely but who knows) – I check out the ABC. You might be more fun in your second life. LOL

  14. Sebastian says:

    re: Minister of Censorship… The Romans had one, so it surprises me that America does not also have one… :)

    Mind you, the Censor played a slightly different role back then — wouldn’t be a big shock to see that role return in a few decades, mind. Unless this whole capitalist democracy REALLY is here to stay! (Which would be a turn-up for the books).

    Nice healthy discussion goin’ on here!

    REPLY – to keep things in sync
    It is very interesting that the formal declaration of Minister for Censorship is so infrequently done – when we know that censorship exists in many different ways around the world.

  15. Angry SL User says:

    What the hell, come on

    There are plenty of second life users here, including myself that will be extrememly angry if the ban goes through.

    Stop kidding yourself Aus, just let us have fun

  16. Lesley Dewar says:

    The Australian Minister for Censorship is proposing legislation (and actually already has a test programme running to restrict access to various sites through your ISP) that will apply to Australians only. His “Nanny Net” test plan was accepted by some brown nose ISPs – who undoubtedly hope that “volunteering” for the filter testing will stand them in good stead with the Government at a later date. Telstra was not amongst them. Maybe Sol was good for something, after all.

  17. Lesley Dewar says:

    @KevinRuddPM Dear PM. Why is the Minister for Censorship worried about Second Life, instead of cracking down on Rove’s stunts? Lesley

    In Answer to:

    Ok. So its only a couple of hours to go before I’m on Rove. With Bruno! Any ideas guys about how I can get out of this one? KRudd

  18. Eric Lough says:

    I am an active user of Second Life. Second Life near as I can tell cannot be classified as a game, it is more of an internet community in a 3d Environment.
    I try to actively participate in a few of the groups there, including an organization called Dreams, which exists to help people with developmental disabilities like Autism, and stroke survivors.
    Recently I was asked to create something for another organization called Virtual Helping Hands Group. This group is a non-profit that helps blind and deaf people get the most out of Second Life.
    Although in our First Life some of us may not be able to interact with others effectively, in Second Life it is a safe place for those of us with Disabilities.
    Plenty of people that have no disabilities also use Second Life, and recently Second Life has begun implementing changes that require age verification to access the ‘adult’ content of Second Life.

    Second Life cannot be simply called a ‘Game’. Second Life is the only online community that I know of that has it’s own currency, exchange market, and commerce. You can purchase ‘Linden Dollars’ with almost any currency in the world, you can buy things in Second Life for your avatar to use in world, anything from earrings to wear on your avatar, to Mansions to virtually live in. You can make things with a very intuitive build system, and you can add ‘Scripts’ (programs) that will make your objects do things. You can sell things you make to other residents, and make a profit. I personally know at least 3 people that make about $300 USD a month selling stuff to other people in Second Life.
    If you so choose to play a game, there are countless games available, everything from simple puzzles to board games, to whole Sims dedicated to a Role Playing Game.
    I’ve been a resident of Second Life for almost a year, and I’ve only encountered Adult Content maybe twice in all that time. Just like the internet, if you want to find Adult Content in Second Life, you really have to look for it.
    How many people in Australia use Second Life like I do, rent land, have a shop, and try to make a living with a few hours of work/day?

    I know of one scripter (LSL programmer) that charges a minimum of $250 USD just as a downpayment for a scripting job, and yes, people pay it.

    How many people that use Second Life in Australia will this bill utterly ruin?

    This ‘australian gov’t fellow’ sounds worse than Obama, and I didn’t think that was possible.

  19. Lesley Dewar says:

    Eric, your argument is flawless – Second Life has many worthwhile uses and users and, because as you say, if you want pornogrophy on the net – it is easy enough to find and yet a reasonably sensible user almost never bumps into it. I urge you and your fellow users of Second Life to lobby the Federal Government and lobby hard.

    While we have the PM of this country enjoying himself and building a media persona; appearing on Rove only minutes after “Bruno” had engaged the host of the show in a performance which was anything other than edifying, The Minister For Censorship is attacking honest, hardworking Australians who are building businesses for themselves on the net. I won’t hold my breath waiting for “The Hon” Mr. Conroy to say anything about Rove’s performance.

  20. Attica Bekkers says:

    SLis often called web 2.0 – for good reasons. It has more in common with social networking sites and old fashoned internet relay chat or a web browser than with a game.

    People do play games within it, in the same way roleplay and trivia quiz chat rooms are found in some other social networking sites chat rooms. Except in second life the “rooms” are 3d rooms (or fields, or whatever is imagined and created).

    The “moderators” of the sl version of chat rooms are the landowners and those they give the rights too- not the makers of second life. Secondlife also has “meta rules” that must be obeyed and they respond to abuse reports.. much like an irc server operator- but they cannot control the minutae before it happens.

    For Secondlife to obtain a 15+ rating would be like the world wide web obtaining one- impossible as it is all dynamically user created content. Secondlife provides the tools to create our content and view it and interact with it and “Surf” it, much like a web browser with a built in web page maker does. The content is 3D but still user generated.

  21. Lesley Dewar says:

    Thanks for the update Attica. Not being very familiar with SL, your comments shed more light on the sheer impossibility of controlling its use.

  22. Seriously? They are curbing free speech in Australia? That’s news to me! It’s getting freer here in India, and I thought Australia had greater liberatarian ideals.

  23. Mark says:

    Hi, as Eric and Attica have both said, SL is a virtual world, with locations (sim’s, islands and parcels) created and built by the residents. Futhermore, its residents are global, meaning at any one moment there can be between 40,000 and 70,000 residents online, that should give you an idea of how massive it is.

    The world media seems to delight in giving SL a bad name, reports like, “SL broke up my family, SL is a den of sexual deviants, SL ate my hamster”, but they seldom report on the many good things SL has to offer. Eric mentioned about groups and communities that cater for the disabled or people with learning disabilities within SL, but it goes a lot deeper than that. Not only do these groups and communities support these people in-game but they also generate revenue to use in the real world for research, cures or support. Relay for Life is a great example of this, through SL they are able to reach a far greater number of people that they could through just T.V. or poster campaigns and it’s global coverage. Relay for Life in SL generates hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer research every year. That is just one example, but there are many charities in SL that are also benefiting from it’s global community.

    As for “adult content”, the Lindens (game developers) are already putting into place steps that are going to make adult content more difficult to reach. It will be allowed in game, but people will only be able to access it if they are “age verified”, this means they will have had to prove that they are over 18 years of age by means of digital identification. Although no system is totally secure, this should be pretty much reliable. Also to stop people accidently bumping into adult content they are going to have a set region only for adult content, this should prevent the average resident, who just wants to go and look at a virtual zoo for example, from stumbling across anything they might not want to see.

    I think it would be a real shame, not to mention a giant step back in human rights, if Australia was banned from using this program. Over time I have met a great deal of weird and wonderfull Australians, people who I never would have met and got to know if it wasnt for SL. You guys should really petition and lobby your government, remember they are supposed to work for you!

  24. guitargeek73 says:

    i have several friends in SL that live in Australia.
    i will miss them. second life is a community and it is a place to express your creativity anonymously.

  25. Lesley Dewar says:

    Australia doesn’t actually have “free speech” embedded in its constitution and we don’t have a bill of rights guaranteeing free speech either. It can be a two edged sword – as with most things. What we do have is a censorship that is managed by the whims of a few, over the many.

  26. Lesley Dewar says:

    The Rudd Government has been trying to censor Australian’s access to information through the internet for a couple of years and use the “protect the children” story to do it. The truth is that more children need protecting from the people they know – than they do from strangers. Too many people ask the government to “do it” – including monitoring and disciplining their children. And the Government is happy to do that – by introducing dracionian laws that will restrict the activities of everyone.

  27. Lesley Dewar says:

    SL is a community outside the control of the Minister for Censorship. That’s why he wants to ban it.

  28. Thomas Davey says:

    Hey, I’ve been reading over this comments page, and i have noticed that the more i read, the more i find all of this just pathetic.

    The whole “Protect the children” idea is pathetic by far. Particularly due to the fact that if we protect our children from everything in the world today, then what will be the result of this? The result would be children with no ability to respond in certain situations when they’re older, it makes them unknowledgeable of the outside world, and makes sure they don’t know anything in regards to the REAL world. Protecting children to this extent will ENSURE they’re incompetent adults in the future, and a bleak future for all after at that.

    The Australian Government needs to stop playing mummy and start doing what they’re meant to do, run a country, not control it.

  29. Lesley Dewar says:

    Thomas, you are absolutely right – but Australia is becoming more and more a “Nanny” country – with people expecting the Government to “fix everything” instead of taking responsibility for their own actions. Government loves it, because it gives them a perceived right to introduce more and more censorship and restrictive laws. On the internet censorship issue – here is an interesting article about the Chinese attempt to censor the internet (dated June 30 2009) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8124735.stm

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  31. Lesley Dewar says:

    They are wanting to do it …… it’s not the law yet……

  32. Tim says:

    Australian censors are fu%king morons… I’m never coming home.

  33. Lesley Dewar says:

    Don’t give up, yet, Tim. China has apparently abandoned its “Green Dam” internet censorship plans – because they found out it just wasn’t going to work. Maybe Conroy will take a lead from the Chinese – the Rudd Government is all over them like a rash – so, they must surely be taking some notice.

  34. Linda says:

    It’s already happened, I verified my age and everything is there, but I cannot access any adult areas.

    When I do it crashes the whole SL Client, if I try to login from last location it screws up and crashes until I tell it to go to a PG area…

  35. Lesley Dewar says:

    Linda – Do I understand you correctly? That you can still log in to Second Life – but you can only access a PG area and from there you cannot progress to an “adult” area? I am not familiar with SL, so I don’t actually know what is classified as an “adult” area in comparison to any other area in SL? Lesley

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  38. Mircea says:

    Australia has become what I call a modern communist country. While countries such as China struggle to obtain freedom of speech and freedom of information, Australia starts a shocking and totally unjustified movement of censorship which would only be expected in one of the most uncivilized countries of the world.

    I am further shocked that internet users have taken no action against this, such as organizing a protest. This is unacceptable in a civilized country, I dearly hope action will be taken to bring back freedom of speech and freedom of free thinking in Australia. Lets not allow the world to further regress…

  39. Lesley Dewar says:

    There have been a number of protests against this censorship and much lobbying of Federal Ministers – especially “The Hon” Conroy. However, not enough notice is being taken. Maybe we need to start using Twitter to Tweet directly to The Hon K Rudd, PM. He prides himself on being very media savvy!

  40. Jennifer says:

    I think its totally unfair to remove a internet recreation activity such as Second Life and WOW. There are far more internet websites that promote child abuse than secondlife. Why should people that spend their recreational dollars on meeting people from all over the world in an interactive way such as SL. You would be much fairer if there was a gateway link that needed to be age verified for adults to access second life. What ever happened to democracy in our Country? When did politicians stop listening to the little people, especially those with a disability that use SL as their only social outlet. This Game is not all about sex, some of us build and run clubs to enjoy music from all over the world. For some people this is all they have, don’t punish the minority. Think hard why you became a politician and who helped you get there! Thank you

    I’m also an volunteer helper in help people island and I help newbies and I don’t really see anything wrong with SL and yes this is community social networking and please don’t ban this. I had been here for 1 year and 9 months and don’t see any problems with it. I don’t see any child pornography cause child avatars not allowed in adult grid. SL is not violent game as it has rules that no ppl allowed to hit or damaged pple.

  41. Rory says:

    Dear Friends, Happy April Fool’s Day!!

    The rabbi was fed up with his congregation. So, he decided to skip the services on Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, and instead go play golf.
    Moses was looking down from heaven and saw the rabbi on the golf course. He naturally reported it to God. Moses suggested God punish the rabbi severely.
    As he watched, Moses saw the rabbi playing the best game he had ever played! The rabbi got a hole-in-one on the toughest hole on the course. Moses turned to God and asked, “I thought you were going to punish him. Do you call this punishment?!”
    God replied, “Who can he tell?”

    Happy April Fool’s Day!

  42. frank says:

    What is this all about, it’s all about control, control over who see’s what and what information is freely available to consenting adults, if pornography is a problem, then its up to the adult family members to restrict whats available to child family members, its not up to political debate, politicians have no control unless we as individuals hand that over, like some form of judas sheep, I’m of an opinion that if someone says its all about child porn i would have to say, what Rating of material are you refering to, as there is no real form of rating system in Australia, as all Australians know, that from PG to XXX/AO, there are atleast 2 other ratings between that all over the rest of the world, why would it be that there isn’t down under, this is remiss of our ratings system and that is at fault as well as adult supervision more than have a small percent of political persons say what is what that falls under which form of censorship, a proper ratings system must be in place before any censoring to take place as thats what ratings systems are about in the first place, if any politician want’s to censor firstly they need to properly instigate a rigid gauge and that is what ratings are for.
    and remember that a vote for censoring could actualy help, banning any form of freedom, isn’t that what our grandparents and others thought they fought against in WW2, and are still fighting against in Irak and afganistan, you might think thats off topic, thats how far humanity will rally against operession.

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