Age and Identity Verification in Second Life
Friday, May 4th, 2007 at 4:25 PM PDT by: daniellinden
We will shortly begin beta testing an age and identity verification system, which will allow Residents to provide a one-time proof of identity (such as a driver’s license, passport or ID card) and have that identity verified in a matter of moments.
Second Life has always been restricted to those over 18. All Residents personally assert their age on registration. When we receive reports of underage Residents in Second Life, we close their account until they provide us with proof of age. This system works well, but as the community grows and the attractions of Second Life become more widely known, we’ve decided to add an additional layer of protection.
Once the age verification system is in place, only those Residents with verified age will be able to access adult content in Mature areas. Any Resident wishing to access adult content will have to prove they are over 18 in real life.We have created Teen Second Life for minors under the age of 18. Access to TSL by adults is prohibited, with minors not allowed into the rest of Second Life.
For their part, land owners will be required to flag their land as ‘adult’ if it contains adult content using the estate and land management tools provided to landowners. This flag will protect landowners from displaying inappropriate content to underage users who may have entered Second Life. Landowners are morally and legally responsible for the content displayed and the behavior taking place on their land. The identity verification system gives them new tools to ensure any adult content is only available to adults over 18 because unverified avatars will not have access to land flagged as containing adult content.
We hope you’ll agree that the small inconvenience of doing this once is far outweighed by the benefits of protecting minors from inappropriate content. Further, this system will assist landowners in engaging in lawful businesses.
The verification system will be run by a third party specializing in age and identity authentication. No personally identifying information will be stored by them or by Linden Lab, including date of birth, unless the Resident chooses to do so. Those who wish to be verified, but remain anonymous, are free to do so.
Premium Second Life Residents will have access to the identity verification system for a nominal Linden Dollar fee as part of their subscription. Free-account owners (Basic membership) can pay a larger Linden Dollar fee for the service, can upgrade to Premium to access the system, or simply decline to verify their age and continue enjoying Second Life without access to adult content.
The identity verification system will not impact Second Life Grid performance , and since it was developed and is operated by a third party, does not impact the development work we’re doing to address performance or stability issues.
The system will enter beta testing shortly and be rolled out Grid wide in mid-May.
Age Verification Q&A
1. What is identity verification?
Identity verification is a system that makes efforts to establish proof of age for each Resident on Second Life. Second Life (the “World’) is only available to adults over the age of 18.
2. Why do we need it?
While each Resident asserts his or her age upon registration, we want to insure that minors do not inadvertently access Second Life or have access to adult content in- world. In addition, age verification provides an additional layer of trust for in-world businesses and Residents.
3. How will it work?
Residents will provide a few simple details about their identity – generally, name, date of birth, and address. US Residents will be asked to provide the last four digits of their Social Security Number, while non-US Residents may need to provide a passport or national ID number.
4. Do I have to submit to age verification?
No. You need only provide age verification if you choose to enter areas in Second Life that have been flagged as having adult content. Going forward, estate and parcel owners will be required to flag the presence of adult content on their land. Access to that area will then be restricted to age-verified Residents only. Flagging adult areas provides notice to adults that content contained in the area may be objectionable to them. Age-verification provides an added layer of protection against minors who have gained unauthorized access to the world.In addition, anyone wishing to gain access on the Teen Second Life will be required to submit to age verification.
5. Why are you doing this now?
The growing popularity of Second Life gives rise to the need to add measures of security so that Second Life remains a safe environment for all Residents.
6. What documents do I need to prove my age?
Exact documents may vary depending on your country of residence but may include:
National ID number, such as a Social Security number
7. I’m outside the US. Does it work the same in each country?
The exact information required for Identity verification may vary from country to country, but the system works in generally the same way around the world.
8. What types of activities in Second Life will require age verification?
Access to areas that Residents and businesses have flagged as containing adult content will require age verification.
9. Who will need to verify their age?
Anyone wishing to access adult content will need to verify their age in advance. Just like going into a bar – you need to prove your age.
10. What if I’m under 18?
Minors are not allowed in Second Life. Please access Teen Second Life to enjoy Second Life if you are under 18. Only Residents between the ages of 13 and 17 will be allowed to access Teen Second Life.
11. What if I want to remain anonymous?
Residents over the age of 18 can still remain anonymous if they wish to remain in areas of the World that do not contain adult content. Age-verification will only be required at this time for access to adult content. Anyone wishing to gain access to Teen Second Life must all be age-verified.
12. What if Adult Content is not Flagged
We require that adult content be flagged. If Residents and businesses attempt to violate this rule, we expect that such behavior will be reported by the community. Although we want to limit age-verification processes to adult content and Teen Second Life, in the event we encounter abuses of self-regulation, Second Life may have to require age-verification throughout the world. We hope that does not happen.
13. What personal information will you store about me?
Linden Lab will not store any personally identifying information about you as a result of the age verification process. We simply record that your avatar is age-verified.
14. Do I have to pay for verification?
Premium Residents will access the verification system for a nominal fee (L$10) as part of their subscription. Basic users will be charged a larger fee to verify their age, can upgrade to Premium to access the system, or simply decline to verify their age and continue enjoying the areas of Second Life that don’t contain adult content.
15. Do I have to verify each avatar I use?
Each individual will be able to associate their age and personal information to a limited number of accounts.
16. As a parcel/estate owner, how do I flag content as ‘adult’?
Land-owners will find a check box in their land management tools that they will be able to check if they have adult content on their land.
17. What is defined as “Adult Content”
We trust that common sense will prevail. As a general rule, “Adult Content” is any content that is explicitly sexual or excessively violent in nature.
18. What happens if I don’t flag my adult content?
We believe that most landowners will want to take steps to prevent underage Residents being exposed to adult content. All content creators and businesses are morally and legally responsible for their activities. We strongly advise landowners to take advantage of these tools to prevent inappropriate use by those who may have accessed the adult grid using fraudulent information.Land containing adult content which is not clearly marked as such, will be easily identifiable by the community, which can either raise concerns directly with the landowner or with Linden Lab via the Abuse channel.While Linden Lab is working to ensure Second Life is restricted to adults, the burden of responsibility lies with the parcel and estate owner for the content displayed and activities offered on their land. The identity verification system provides the means to protect both visitors and landowners alike.
19. When will this be rolled out?
Internal testing is underway now, with a limited roll-out expected to follow by mid-May.