This year I am heading a team of 'ambassadors' to promote the international aspect of Relay for Life of Second Life. Like many others I've been concerned about the rumors out there that Second Life is being banned in Australia. I would have grave concerns about cancer survivors and supporters in ANY country being excluded from Relay for Life of Second Life, not to mention the wider ramifications of Second Lifers from any country being barred from entry into SL.
The source of the confusion appears to be a story published in the Sydney Morning Herald last week. Basically, selected ISP's are trialling a scheme to block access to adult content games. An internet critic is quoted in the article as saying that 'the move to extend the filtering to computer games would place a cloud over online-only games such as World of Warcraft and Second Life, which aren't classified in Australia due to their online nature.'
Now, a ‘cloud’ is NOT the same as an outright ban, although some sources have said it IS so. The Metaverse Journal responded on June 25 in a long open letter to the Australian Minister in question, Senator Conroy, objecting to the ban. Over the weekend the thread was picked up by hundreds of blogs and forums around the world. On Monday June 29 the Australian Christian Today wrote that: ‘It was confirmed by Australian Minister for Censorship that online games such as Second Life is (sic) banned in the country.’
There is nothing like checking the facts first. So Ember Farina, Australian ‘Ambassador’ for RFL of SL and Team Captain of the Friends Fighting Cancer RFL of SL team, who in real life is an Australian firefighter, contacted the office of the Senator in question and spoke with an associate there, and says: ‘It appears to be something related to GAME ratings. SL is not classified as a game at this stage. IF there was a complaint received in the future to the Gaming Commission then it would be addressed but his associate seemed fairly comfortable that it's not an issue in this circumstance.’
Ember went on to say: ‘I asked the Senator's associate if there was anything in writing to support this but there wasn't. As far as the Senator's associate was concerned this only came to light because a newspaper article jumped on it - SL was never mentioned nor targetted by the Senator.’
The whole thing seems to be a misinterpretation of the Australian government’s ongoing censorship/filtering scheme trying to block extreme violence games and child pornography. So it looks as if although there's a lot of smoke, there's no fire. Yet.
This morning I contacted Linden Labs who have now responded that: 'We have received no indication from the Australian government that it intends to block Second Life.'
Sydney Morning Herald