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AgeLock LogoA new resident-created Second Life service called “AgeLock” offers parcel owners the ability to require an affirmative statement of age before allowing access to adult content, potentially reducing civil and criminal liability for access by minors. Users who enter a parcel that has been secured with AgeLock are asked to confirm that they do not object to viewing adult material and confirm that viewing adult material by someone their age is legal in their jurisdiction. Users are also asked to provide their date of birth.

AgeLock is positioned as an “alternative to Integrity” in materials on the AgeLock web site. “Integrity” is the name of the identity verification system Linden Lab announced last summer, which is slowly being rolled out. AgeLock recently entered free, open, beta testing.

Virtually Blind interviewed one of AgeLock’s creators, ‘Allana Dion.’ ‘Dion’ explained how AgeLock works and addressed potential concerns regarding privacy and access.

'Allana Dion'Virtually Blind: In general terms, what is AgeLock?

‘Allana Dion:’ AgeLock is a scripted device connected to an off world (outside Second Life) database. It is set to either scan a sphere shaped area of as low as 2m or as high as 96m around the unit, or scan an entire plot of land by reading the property lines. Unlike the default scanner, this scanner will scan up to 100 people all at the same time.

As a new visitor arrives, the unit scans the avatar and checks that avatar name against the database. If the avatar name is already in the database, the unit will simply go back into standby mode and wait for the next visitor. If the avatar name is not in the database, the unit will address the avatar with a blue pop up window, warning the visitor that the area may contain adult content.

The warning states: Warning! You have entered an area which may contain sexually explicit material. If you are underage, find adult material offensive, or if it is illegal for you to view adult material in your community, you should leave the area. If you wish to remain and continue to have access to this area, please check ‘Enter.’

Basically the same warning that is used on adult websites all over the internet.

After the visitor has made it clear he/she wishes to stay, he/she will be asked to state for the record that he/she is 18 years of age or older, then state his/her real life date of birth for the record. AgeLock 'Enter' ScreenThis information, avatar name, date of birth given, are added to our database so that the individual will never again be asked to give this information when they revisit that plot of land or any other connected to the AgeLock system.

If any visitor indicates by the buttons they select on the pop up window that they either prefer not to view adult content or can not legally view adult content, the unit will thank them politely and leave them alone for 120 seconds (two minutes). If after two minutes the individual has not already teleported away on his/her own, the unit will teleport him/her to his/her home location with another polite message.

VB: Why did you create AgeLock?

AD: AgeLock started as a project for the Forum sim. The Forum is an adult community and we wanted something like this for ourselves, for the peace of mind of knowing that all of our visitors are aware they are entering an adult area. As we were developing it for ourselves, and people were commenting on it throughout it’s testing, we decided to improve our original design and offer it to the rest of the Second Life community.

Initially, during the discussion stage, we just weren’t comfortable with the Linden Lab plan of flagging our land adult and automatically banning anyone who wasn’t comfortable with giving Integrity real life information. I personally felt doing so would have an enormous impact on my own store and the other merchants in our shopping area. We also have many friends and members of our Forum group who had told us they would not be able to be “verified” through Integrity for various reasons. We knew we would have to block all those people if we went along with Linden Lab’s plan. This was the alternative we came up with for ourselves and for others who might feel the way we do.

The people who developed this are ‘Jamie David,’ ‘Allana Dion,’ ‘DXW Undertone,’ and ‘Property Resistance,’ all members of the Forum Community.

AgeLock Age VerifictionVB: Is it sort of the opposite of a banlist? Basically, a whitelist of people who have at least claimed they’re old enough to see adult content?

AD: Well, I don’t think I’d put it that way. This system will not add anyone to any ban lists, it doesn’t create any ban lines. It does not make lists of people who have refused to use it. In fact, given that the system allows visitors up to two whole minutes to move around without answering, it does nothing to prevent someone from going to the trouble of continuously ignoring it, before it teleports them home. It’s not really designed to keep anyone out. It’s only designed to give an appropriate warning to visitors and allows visitors to willingly input their information, basically an acknowledgment that they’ve received the warning and chosen to stay, so that they won’t have to deal with the warning the next time.

The important part is the clear warning. It is designed to be as friendly as possible. The reason it asks a visitor to declare their intent to stay and to give their age is simply to prevent people from being bombarded by this warning everywhere they go.

I suppose, in a way, you could say it is “a whitelist of people who have at least claimed they’re old enough to see adult content”, but that’s pretty much what Integrity’s identity verification is as well. This one just doesn’t require you to reveal your real life identity and doesn’t automatically block visitors who aren’t already on the list.

VB: People might still say it basically bans everyone who won’t give AgeLock their birth date, making it harder for people to move around. Does that concern you?

AD: Well it actually doesn’t ban anyone. It isn’t scripted to ban, only eject. So it gives every visitor the opportunity to choose to come back. It creates no ban lines and doesn’t block anyone. In fact, it gives two whole minutes in which a visitor can simply choose to ignore it, before it addresses them again. So someone could fly over the land, walk through it, whatever, and the most annoying thing that will happen to them is, if they are in the vicinity long enough to be scanned, they’ll see the blue pop up window. A blue pop up window you can easily click “ignore” is a lot less intrusive than all the security devices and ban lines that already exist all over SL.

A feature of this system that our scripter included is the ability for the unit to read property lines and not allow itself, even if set at the highest scanner range, to scan beyond those property lines. So a land holder who only has a 512 plot of land, could set this device right on the edge of his property line, leave it set to scan at it’s highest setting, and it still won’t be an annoyance to his neighbors. (This isn’t how we recommend you set it up, but it is a feature we included to keep this system as unobtrusive as possible.)

VB: Do you have any plans to use the data for marketing, or any other purpose, besides verifying people for access to adult sims?

AD: Absolutely not. The purpose of maintaining the database is only to ensure that residents will only need to be given the warning once and won’t need to worry about being hit with it everywhere they go over and over.

The database keeps the following information: Avatar name real life date of birth given the date they entered the system.

That’s it, no more. We do not keep track of where people visit, or what they do, or what their interests are. The units are not even scripted to record that information, they can’t. The fact that an avatar name is in our database does not indicate whether that person was visiting a XXX sex club or a store selling skins or just visiting a neighbor. What we keep in our database is completely useless in terms of any marketing.

As a side note, we’ve carefully avoided using the word “verify”, as we do not verify or check any information given.

AgeLock GlobeVB: Does AgeLock operate across multiple sims?

AD: If someone owns land in multiple sims, they will need to place more than one unit, which is why all the units are copiable, so that a land holder can place as many as needed. The great thing is the database, so if you own land that crosses multiple sims and your visitor enters through one sim, they won’t be hit with the warning again when they cross over to the next sim, once they’re in the database. Currently the maximum scanner range is 96 m radius, or up to the limit of the property lines. We are hoping to provide a unit in the future that will cover an entire property or sim, up to a set height. But that of course, depends upon development

VB: What will you do if you are told that someone who has registered is underage? And are you worried about getting forced to mediate a lot of disputes?

Our privacy policy states that we will not be giving out any information unless legally required to do so. In other words, if you’re being sued, the court contacts us, we give over the information we have that is relevant to the case and only the case. There is no other situation in which we would be expected to mediate any disputes. If a land holders believe someone is underage, they should ban the individual from the land, report them to Linden Lab, the only one’s with the power to actually do anything about it. Again, we don’t intend to make any attempts to verify an individual’s information and we don’t ask for real life information beyond a birthdate. Keeping minors off the main grid is Linden Lab’s responsibility

I’m not too concerned with being asked to deal with too many disputes, but when people do contact us, my advice, in the case of those who believe they have a minor on their land, will be to contact Linden Lab. In the case of those who are already dealing with legal battles however, we will happily comply with court orders, while maintaining the privacy of other uninvolved parties

VB: I’m sure you saw the national press reports earlier this week about the Wonderland sim and ageplay. Do you see AgeLock being used to try to localize certain content that is legal in one jurisdiction, but not in another?

AD: I’ll be honest, that is a tough question. I’m not really sure how it could be at all useful to someone that way though. If you run a club where you are doing something you know is against the TOS or even illegal in most parts of the real world, will giving the warning we use to people before the enter protect you from liability? I’d say no it doesn’t. Illegal is illegal. Our warning doesn’t say, “there may be illegal content here”, it says there may be adult content. That is a big difference

In the case of Wonderland, I’ll say first, I have no idea if there is sexual ageplay occurring there, I’ve never seen the place, so I can’t judge. But if you are engaging in sexual ageplay, you’re already violating Linden Lab rules, so you get caught, you get banned. A scripted warning won’t help you in that situation. If you own a casino, you’re breaking Linden Lab rules, a warning can’t help you

It is a tough question, what is illegal and what isn’t? Is a prim marijuana plant illegal? It’s not really marijuana, you can’t smoke it, it won’t get you high. Images of bestiality are illegal in many places, and yet it’s not hard to find websites on the internet specializing in it. (my advice… don’t go look! Just take my word for it. :p ) But is it against Linden Lab rules? I actually don’t know. If it is, you’re outta luck. If it isn’t, then a warning is certainly appropriate at least and not having any warning is irresponsible to say the least

VB: How does AgeLock provide better protection for adult parcel owners than the age verification system Linden Lab is planning to implement?

AD: The protection is in the clear, unmistakable warning. There is no way a visitor could see that warning, click the buttons, continue on, and then later claim to have been surprised by the presence of adult content

The way Integrity is expected to be set up, is that residents will go through a link on their account page on the website, input real world name, date of birth, SS number, driver’s license, whatever, and then be labeled “verified”. Where in this process has the individual actually made the statement that they are aware of the presence of adult content and are willingly and knowingly viewing it?

The protection of the AgeLock system is that it happens in world, it can’t be mistaken for something else. It comes with a clear warning of content and a clear declaration of intent by the visitor. It’s purpose is basically to remove the “innocent victim” argument, the “I didn’t know” claim

The other important difference here is that this isn’t blocking thousands of visitors from your land. If you own a store in Second Life and you flag your land adult and only allow Integrity “verified” visitors, you are effectively cutting your customer base, by possibly as much as half, if not more. There are going to be many people who choose not become “verified” simply because they are not comfortable giving real life information to a company they have not personally chosen. There are going to be many people who choose not to become “verified” as a means of protest

And, as hard as it is for us blog junkies to believe, there are going to be many many people who have no idea any of this verification stuff is even happening. Jamie had a conversation with one just yesterday in which he had to point him to the blog and tell him to read. Even now, after all these months it’s been discussed, this guy didn’t know. The simple truth is, only a small percentage of people actually read the blogs. So imagine, someone who has no clue what is going on, tries to teleport to your store and can’t. You think he’s going to IM you and complain and allow you to explain and point him to the Integrity website? Nine times out of ten no, he’s going to not bother and move on to another store

With AgeLock, there are no misunderstandings. People are able to enter your land, they are given the information that is clear and easy to understand and they are allowed to make the decision right there in that moment. We’ve found that in most cases, curiosity alone will drive people to read the warnings and enter their birthdate, just to see what it’s all about

VB: Do you plan to charge for AgeLock?

AD: At this time, we are calling this the beta testing stage. So no, we are not charging any money for it. We are offering it completely free and asking people to keep in mind that it is a beta stage and now is the time to work out any little problems

Basically the idea is to get the system out there and get it used by as many people as possible, make sure it works, see if people are happy with it. We also hope that Linden Lab will acknowledge that the residents can and are coming up with alternatives of their own and respect our right to do so by not making adult land flagging and identity verification mandatory, but instead allow us to choose for ourselves the systems we prefer to use, whether people choose Integrity, AgeLock, or something else

Eventually, if the system turns out to be something the community wants and if things go as smoothly as we hope, the databases could become really huge. So at some point, if all of the above occurs, we do expect to need to charge the land holders who use the units a small fee to cover our expenses, the databases for instance and the scripters who have so kindly done all of this work for free on the promise that we’ll remember them. But our goal isn’t to make a living off of this, if we do end up charging at some point, it will be a very small amount and it would be the land holders using the system who pay for it, not the individual visitors just visiting the land

Again, another way our system is different from Integrity. Integrity plans to charge each individual Second Life resident for the right to go where they please. If and when we need to charge anyone, we will be charging the people who want the visitors to come to them. Makes more sense I think.

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16 Responses to “New “AgeLock” Service in Second Life Addresses Liability for Access to Adult Content by Minors”

  1. on 03 Nov 2007 at 1:09 pmTaran Rampersad

    As Nobody Fugazi, I got the press release on this. I didn’t post on it because I hadn’t thought through *anyone* having that level of access to people’s information, even voluntarily. That is a lot of responsibility for any organization to have. In fact, governments are often criticized about it.

    That said, I’m glad you posted on it. I can reference it when I eventually muddle through my thoughts and come to things resembling conclusions or options. ;-)

  2. on 03 Nov 2007 at 1:57 pmMe

    If LL requires everyone to mark mature parcels as mature, doesn’t this create an additional barrier? People would now have to satisfy AgeLock plus LL.

  3. on 03 Nov 2007 at 4:27 pmJazzman Jibilla

    I have to second #2. Which means I am four it. sorry…should never start with a digression.

    Is there a tender out on an age verification system? I think asking LL to accept a system they didn’t come up with or rejected and, admit that the Integrity decision simply lacked it, is wishful thinking. I wish you luck. It sounds like a far better system and much easier to implement even if LL wanted a share of the information.

    I am a little concerned about the very last paragraph. I may be obtuse and not understanding, but; is Integrity going to be charging a fee?
    I don’t remember seeing that anywhere else, but I could easily have missed it in Broadway 92pt bold.

  4. on 03 Nov 2007 at 7:05 pmAllana Dion


    We’re offering AgeLock as an alternative to LL’s current plan. They have never actually stated that flagging your land “adult” will be mandatory, only that it will be “strongly recommended”. We’re hoping they stick to that.

    We expect some people to decide to go ahead and flag their land “adult” and only allow in people who are willing to give their real life information to Integrity… and we hope some people will decide not to go that route and try this alternative instead.

    A Quote from Philip Linden himself: “It is important to note that privacy, in general, is clearly a big part of SL.
    We must consider what things we need to do to be safe and legal on our own servers.
    And, more generally, that these types of verification systems are, in the longer term, things people will likely build on their own.
    We certainly would never push people to disclose gender or age, beyond what is needed for legal compliance.”
    What we are hoping is that LL will respect the fact that Second Life residents are coming up with methods of their own (as we’ve been encouraged to do) to protect themselves and allow us all the right to choose which systems to use and not make any one company or system mandatory.

    If they decide not to do that and just make flagging your land “adult” mandatory and force everyone to use only Integrity/Aristotle … well we’ll be disapointed, but it never hurts to hope.


    Yes Linden Lab stated that when Integrity is available to the general public there will be a small fee for premium accounts and a slightly higher fee for basic accounts.

  5. on 03 Nov 2007 at 10:29 pmJazzman Jibilla

    Thanks…yes now you mention it i recall that 1L fee or something…well promises to be interesting.

  6. on 04 Nov 2007 at 8:29 am

    While this is an intriguing idea at one level, how are these people addressing liability? It is unclear that simply asserting that a consumer is of age removes liability from the provider (or service provider like AgeLock of, in fact, verifying your age).

    Can AgeLock even accept this liability? Does it actually address the content provider’s liability issue?

    As far as I can tell, this is not a technology problem, but a legal one.

  7. I was reading through this and waiting for the part where it was explained how the stated date of birth was linked to the actual avatar in any way.

    That was, however, a rather naive response, I admit. The point here is not to actually make sure that visitors are over a particular age, rather that the landowner has made the appropriate checks under law to avoid prosecution should a visitor turn out to be underage and their outraged parents pick them up on it and look for someone to sue.

    To be honest, the Integrity system has the same purpose and appears no more reliable in terms of identifying actual underage users, and this requires far fewer personal details (distilling it simply down to a personal statement as far as I can see, with no actual identifying information at all). Thus I see it as a distinct improvement in the field of Security Theatre. Whether it will stand up to future tabloid scares is a matter of speculation, but who can ever predict that?

  8. on 04 Nov 2007 at 3:46 pmDalien Talbot

    hmm. I suspect I was born in the night between 29th feb and 01 march 1969, for this matter.

    I am not a lawyer, but wouldn’t it be enough to merely show the dialog “I am over 18 yes/no” and afterwards asking the user to type in “Yes, I claim that I am over 18 and I am aware that deliberately misinterpreting my age is an offense which is punishable to the full extent of the applicable laws in my jurisdiction” ?

    and store just this phrase, rather than the RL birth date ?

  9. on 04 Nov 2007 at 7:07 pmAllana Dion


    Yes that was something we contemplated during the development. Should we have just the one warning? Should we make them answer a question? Should we go further and ask them to input a date? etc. In the end we figured we’d be best off going as far as we could go, while asking for as little RL information as possible.

    The idea behind our decision is that the visitor will read and respond to the warning and inquiry a total of three times, making it impossible for anyone to be able to get away with saying, “I missed it.” or “I didn’t understand what I was doing.”

    On the website … … we have a link to a forum and we are hoping people will offer their input, their suggestions for future development, ideas for customization, etc.

    What we have right now is version 1, and we really want the community’s input on future versions.

    To #6,

    Liability is something we’ve also considered. Right now Second Life is completely open. Content creators and land holders are completely vulnerable to liability. At this point it’s only a matter of time before someone’s parent comes along and throws a fit because their child saw adult content.

    The problem with LL’s plan is that even after it is implemented, the content creators and land holders in Second Life will still be just as vulnerable. People keep saying Integrity is providing “insurance”, but insurance to who? To Linden Lab, that’s who. It is Linden Lab who is “insured”, or protected by Integrity, not us. Integrity’s contract is with Linden Lab, they’ve offered SL residents no contracts or assurances.

    This is our (my partner’s and I) way of protecting ourselves and we want to offer it to the community. Will it stand up in court if it ever came down to that? That’s a good question. But my thinking is that it would certainly be better than nothing. It’s goal is to at least take away the other guy’s ability to claim innocence and/or ignorance.

  10. on 04 Nov 2007 at 7:11 pmAllana Dion

    We also didn’t want to ask people to type any statements because we wanted to keep the process as simple and quick as possible. The idea was to make it take a mere moment, about the amount of time it takes an area to rez in before you start to move around …. well on a good day when things are rezzing in quickly that is .. have we had any of those lately? :P

    But again, we are listening to suggestions and definately open to both suggestions and possible customizations in future versions.

  11. on 04 Nov 2007 at 8:37 pmTaran Rampersad

    Dalien -

    The ‘click-through’ kind of takes us full circle. To use Second Life on the main grid, people are supposed to do exactly the same thing. Everything added on seems redundant.

    If Linden Lab asks if the person is over 18 when they register, then they are the primary gateway. Anyone who is actually under 18 and lies at that point… well, that’s the whole point now isn’t it?

    So if someone lies to Linden Lab, or otherwise fools them – no matter how sophisticated the system – do we really expect to have to police that? Access to the virtual world is provided through Linden Lab – not any member of the community. The fact that we’re even discussing this is very troublesome in that regard.

  12. on 05 Nov 2007 at 2:27 amDalien Talbot

    @Allana: I’d rather type in a statement. Bit more characters, bit less useful info in it. Ask for it in two forms. Rather that than the RL birth date. Well, like I said, RL birth date is “fine” – those security-conscious will enter the garbage in there anyway. :) But the naive ones will enter their real date. So you build the potentially interesting target for the miscreants. even 300000 of RL birthdates might be an interesting thing for someone. There’s *still* a lot which a creative evil mind can do with this data.

    The other thing is that it does not solve the problem pf “it was not me” anyway. One can always claim that “it was already like that” when they started to play – “someone came in and hacked in, and put the [phrase|my birthdate], and i did not get any warning before i saw the pr0n”. Again, I am not a lawyer, so not sure how far one can go in their denials, and whether the RL date is a compelling enough argument.

    If you think the date will draw attention, ask for SL “rezz date”. This one you can verify as well :)

    @Taran: I click on so many “I agree” buttons daily, I don’t care much if it is one more or one less – if it makes someone happier, I am glad to do so, as soon as I am not revealing any useful information about the meatspace avatar. After all, SL is more and more like RL – so we’ve got to have those “I agree with blah” inworld as well.

    Same as I happily deposited a few lindens in Ginko, I’ll be happy to press “I’m over 18″ for any given CheckURTrueAdult SL-based “company”. I can even go as far as entering my SL “birth date” – this keeps the risk within the game. Giving my RL bank account#, RL birth date or any other RL information does not keep the risk bound, and I kind of feel concerned about that fact :)

  13. [...] Virtually Blind [...]

  14. on 05 Nov 2007 at 6:59 amTaran Rampersad

    @Dalien: Yup. It is ludicrous. The legal constructs defy common sense at times, and I think this is one of them…

    – 16 year old accesses main grid, parents sue because 16 year old engaged in virtual sexual act (virtual sexual knowledge of a minor?!)….

    In court:

    ‘So you did ask that they were over 18?’
    ‘Yes, we did.’
    ‘And the 16 year old said yes?’
    ‘Apparently they did.’
    ‘What other verification did you try?’
    ‘Umm…. well, we asked her again…’
    ‘And they said they were over 16?’
    ‘So what else did you do to verify?’
    ‘We hired an age verification service.’
    ‘Did the 16 year old pass the age verification service?’
    ‘Yes, they did.’
    ‘How did they do that?’
    ‘Apparently by using the mother’s driver’s license’
    ‘Did you call the mother?’
    ‘Did you ask the neighbor?’
    ‘Did you go to their house and see if they were over 18?’
    ‘Clearly you were not interested in whether they really were over 18. Thank you.’

  15. on 07 Nov 2007 at 1:57 pmAge and Treachery « Rheta’s World

    [...] verification system called AgeLock (there is an interview with one of the founders, Allana Dion, here). Time will tell if it can stand the test of litigation. But I think we have to go beyond this ; we [...]

  16. on 08 Jan 2009 at 6:06 pmAge and Treachery

    [...] verification system called AgeLock (there is an interview with one of the founders, Allana Dion, here). Time will tell if it can stand the test of litigation. But it does not address the big question [...]

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