Cross posted this over on Najia's site. But bears repeating.
Najia is talking about hate sites schlepping up upon the US digital shores because if those sites were hosted in Europe a lot of people could be in jail.
I was, at the time, cheerfully clicking on some links about Second Life and its European counterpart Habbo Hotel. The world of Snow Crash was nowhere near this seamy and litigious, all Hiro and YT had to worry about was a crazy Aleut with a nuke and an egomaniacal evangelist bent on unleashing the ultimate namshub upon the unsuspecting denizens of the Internet.
What am I talking about you ask? Well first there is this 17-year-old youth from Holland who used various unethical means to secure access to other Habbo Hotel user accounts. He then proceeded to loot their accounts of virtual furniture, which he moved to his account. Total cost is estimated at $5,800US since to own stuff in Habbo Hotel requires the users to pay for it from credit cards.
If stealing virtual furniture is not your game then in Second Life they just had their first S&L meltdown. Ginko Bank, after three years virutally open, has suddenly folded taking with it almost 200,000,000 Linden dollars or about $750,000 real US dollars. No word if the bank customers will get any of their money back from this online ponzi scheme.
But if this ever goes to a virtual court, we can thank this case for blazing the way to establishing a virtual judicial system. One enterprising coder has created something to change the Ken&Barbie nueter avatars of Second Life into well developed figures. Leisure Suit Larry games spring to mind all of a sudden. Now he is suing someone for allegedly cracking his encryptions and peddling the SexGen code independent of the developer. To which the avatar in question replied, “So sue me.” No word on how Interpol or other international legal agreements will be impacted by this or vice versa.
And to cover all of these less than legal activities it seems CNN has launched its own Second Life news bureau. No word on the quality of the reporting since anyone can submit stories, so I guess Capt Jamil Hussein and Balil Hussein might start working for SL-I Reports anytime soon, assuming neither meets the gallows in the meantime.