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Dutch demand ban of virtual child porn in Second Life

'School for paedophiles'

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The Dutch prosecutor's office is considering legal actions to test the law against child porn in the popular virtual game Second Life. With no clear litigation, it is difficult to act against perpetrators.

Kitty Nooij, who is in charge of the sex offences portfolio at the prosecutor's office in the Netherlands, told Dutch news show Netwerk that she will try to bring cases to court so precedents can be set.

Linden Lab's Second Life is an online digital world with almost three million "residents" claimed by the company. Some areas of Second Life allow adult members to have virtual sex with others who pretend to be children.

Experts, such as psychologist Jos Buschman of the Van Mesdag clinic in Groningen, say Second Life is "by definition a school for paedophiles", despite the fact that adult members like to roleplay as children. Second Life requires all players to be adults.

Virtual child pornography has been a criminal offence in the Netherlands since 2002. However, there is no litigation related to virtual sex with virtual children. Today, at least four political parties in the Netherlands demanded a ban on virtual child porn roleplay.

Discussions about virtual child porn in Second Life already started three years ago with the introduction of an avatar called Sasami Wishbringer, who has the body of an eight year-old. Lately, there are more serious reports about adult players with child avatars soliciting (paid) sex.

Last year, Robin Harper, Linden Lab vice president of community development, wrote in a posting on the official Second Life forum, that "if Second Life has evidence of child pornography or abuse that involves children in the real world, it will act to protect the child and notify the authorities". However, virtual roleplay is allowed. ®

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