They ToS, We Roast: Are Rules Inconsistently Applied?
Old Second Life® residents might remember the days we had a much simpler life on the grid. The Terms of Service was black and white at those times, and we didn’t have to live with so much regulations like we have nowadays. We had ugly skins, square furniture, bad looking hair, but we felt free and protected because Linden Lab had a friendly staff who came on the grid and looked at the community needs. Any mischief was taxed within minutes and not tolerated by any costs.
Nowadays our Linden governor lives in an ivory tower and throws new regulations out periodically onto our backs. I’m not against new regulations! The grid is no longer what used to be in 2006! We had been living in a small village and now we live in a mega city. As we all know, in a big city, crime has different scale. Good or bad, laws are necessary. As the Romans said: “Fiat justitia, et pereat mounds!” (Let there be justice, though the world will perish!) In other words: justice with any cost. Romans were good with words, but we all know, their regime was led by corruption. Is our Linden governor walking on the same path as the Romans!?!
It looks like Linden Lab is looking to create an environment with less mischief by this new set of rules just released, but things will not get any better if the rules are not enforced. Our governor, isolated in his ivory tower, has lost control. This all started in 2007 with the Banking and Gaming policy. Gambling has been banned from grid, but residents found out that classifying a game as one of “skill” gets around that. Many of those so-called skill games are as skillful as the Lewinski-Clinton encounter was non-sexual….
Linden Lab seems to have no problem bending the rules, as long there is a monetary profit involved. Gambling hasn’t been banned from the grid; it was just redesigned (such as the proliferation of slot machines). And, the new regulations will make even higher profits for our beloved governor.
The Banking Policy, published in 2007 and last updated in 20011, was supposed to close down any banking or stock exchange operation who did not submit “a registration statement, charter, or other applicable license from a governing regulatory authority.” In other words – without an office on Wall Street, we can’t run any banking or stock exchange operations in SL. But again, things are not so black and white.
Seven years after the Banking policy was first published, SL has one a large stock market: “Capital Exchange (CapEx) is a fictional stock market simulation game operating for entertainment and educational purposes only.” CEO Skip Oceanlane stated several months ago in Sim Street Journal #6: “We’re classified as a game of skill by Linden Lab’s Terms of Service. We use only lindens, no real life currency. But I see Capital Exchange as a business within a game. Big difference. I run it like a business—a profitable business—within the game of SL. Many of us have businesses within the game, so it combines the two.”
CapEx works well: they report over 22,000 registered accounts (traders) on their website, trade stocks of over fifty SL-based companies, use lindens as currency, and claims the market has on deposit over 27 millions lindens on deposit. Does this go around the banking and/or the gaming policies? Does it matter that important amounts of lindens are moved back and forth? Does it matter that companies pay dividends to investors? Does it matter that CapEx doesn’t have a registration statement, charter, or other applicable license from a governing regulatory authority, as of this writing? What other organizations are exempt from the rules? This atmosphere of inconsistency allows those sneaky enough to paint their fences in a grey color to go undetected. Linden Lab won’t take the time to peak over those fences to figure what kind of operations are conducted.
In the early small village, conditions were promising for legitimate real world enterprises to take root. Back then, states had embassies in-world. Corporations had headquarters on the grid, looking to invest, and develop a real business environment. Some say that big corporations leave the grid because they look for fast profits that they can’t make. Maybe there is some truth in this, but I believe they also leave because Linden Lab doesn’t offer a safe business environment where rules are enforced and available for everyone.
Linden Lab needs to step down from the ivory tower and come back on grid among the people and work for the people. LL wants what all business owners want: make profits with the least trouble possible. Enforcing laws and regulations takes resources and man power. Perhaps they were not looking to spend money on that. If LL does not implement laws to keep the grid healthy, they will have to, eventually, at the request of real life authorities. Get a broom and do some cleaning governor! —Heavy Writer
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Eleanor Medier (avatar of Liane Sebastian)
Liane Sebastian wears an editor’s hat, designer’s coat, and artist’s shoes.
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