So after some talk about it in the past, Second Life are going ahead with identity verification
. The short story is, that in order to access all parts of the grid, it will be necessary to provide a third-party company (which specialises in fraud prevention) with one of the following items: (a) Passport number (b) driving license number, (c) social security number. Nothing else is acceptable.
Never mind that in some countries it's actually illegal to give that information to anyone, and in countries where it isn't illegal, well it bloodywell should be. Any one of these three items can be used by criminals for the purposes of identity theft and fraud, which ironically is what they're trying to prevent.
The article says that the verification would be a simple online procedure, residents just type in the number and bingo. Done. What happens next? That data packet containing my passport number goes on around 30 or so "hops" from one internet server to another, between here and Lindenlabs (or other company I've never heard of before today). Any one of those stages is vulnerable to hacking, interception, screen-scraping, or just an unscrupulous employee at some random internet provider looking at a screen. If the worst does happen and my identity is stolen, I've also effectively given away any possible recourse for compensation, simply by being stupid enough to give my passport/social security details online. No lawyer in the land would be able to defend me.
Um. No thanks.
So what does this mean for me? Well. Given that residents with "adult sites" will be expected to ban non-verified residents, I guess that means I won't be able to go in any sex clubs, bdsm dungeons etc. Hmm. Not like I ever go in places like that anyway. I have a sex-gen mattress in my SL home, and the hottest stud in the game to share it with, I don't NEED anything else. No biggie, if I'm banned from places I never visit anyway.
Except, there's one place. Mission Beach, which is my favourite gay hangout. Mission Beach has been my home-from-home for over a year. I love that place, I love all the guys that hang out there, many of my best friends in the whole game are from that beach. Now when the idea was first suggested by LL a few months ago, Boots was much in favour of making the beach age-verified only. I'm not sure that he fully understands the implifications of doing that. He seemed to be under the impression that the only reasons that anyone would choose not to verify was that they're either a griefer or underage. I'm neither, but I'm still unwilling to risk my personal details to the insecurity of the 'net. That makes me a citizen that apparently can no longer be trusted. I guess if Boots does choose to the beach to non-verifieds, I just won't be able to visit any more, but I shall be very sad to lose that contact with a place and a crowd that I've loved so much.
EDIT: Someone suggested that it's no different from giving your credit card number to make a purchase online, but it's not. If I make a purchase online, and my credit card number is hacked and stolen, and someone uses it to make fraudulent purchases, I can cancel my credit card and get my money back.
If I give my social security number and someone hacks that, they get ALL my personal details. If they use that to commit fraud under my identity, I can't get my social security number changed. If that person commits a crime using my personal details, it could well be me that gets arrested for it.