Second life goes to Washington

Philip Rosedale, the founder of virtual world Second Life, has appeared before the US congress – in both flesh and digital form – to reassure the virtual world does not present a security risk to the real one.

Reuters reports that Rosedale – the chief executive of Linden Lab, which runs Second Life – was asked to appear before a telecommunications subcommittee of Congress because of fears Second Life could be used as a recruitment and communication tool by terrorists or criminals.

Appearing along with a video screen representing his Second Life self, or avatar, Rosedale argued that it could actually be easier to police illegal activities in his virtual world.

“The virtual world has a degree of accountability … and traceability which actually in many ways is better than the real world,” Rosedale said.

Rosedale’s appearance obviously created a bit of a stir in Second Life, with about 20 avatars – two of which had wings, and one in the form of a giant bumble bee – coming to watch or participate in proceedings via the video screen at the hearing room, with their comments displayed at the bottom of the screen.

And one of the US politicians on the subcommittee also got in on the act – also on the screen was an avatar representing Edward Markey, the chair of the subcommittee.

The subcommittee told Rosedale that the hearing was for information purposes only and that there was plan to impose additional regulations on virtual worlds like Second Life.

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