Law enforcement in virtual worlds
Interesting Washington Post piece on law enforcement in virtual worlds like Second Life or the game World of Warcraft.
Two years ago, Japanese authorities arrested a man for carrying out a series of virtual muggings in another popular game, Lineage II, by using software to beat up and rob characters in the game and then sell the virtual loot for real money.
The key question is whether for instance rape, child abuse, mugging and killing online should be compared to these acts in the real world. And if so, which country’s laws should the crimes fall under.
Philip Rosedale, the founder and chief executive of Linden Labs, said in an interview that Second Life activities should be governed by real-life laws for the time being. He recounted, for example, that his company has called in the FBI several times, most recently this spring to ensure that Second Life’s virtual casinos complied with U.S. law. Federal investigators created their own avatars and toured the site, he said.
In coming months, his company plans to disperse tens of thousands of computer servers from California and Texas to countries around the world in order to improve the site’s performance. Also, he said, this will make activities on those servers subject to laws of the host countries.