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Unethical NONconsensual experimentation on SL


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Hi - I had some really bad experiences with my first main avatar a couple years ago or so.  At first they were doing this weird stalking thing but eventually I came to realize that it was more along the lines of psychological priming of various types, psychological harassment techniques and gathering information.  Unfortunately a lot of this ran to RL where I finally got a case # at the State Attorney's Office.  Their stonewalling appears to be indicative of something - they have not investigated the SL part, they haven't even stopped the "harassers" from rerouting my internet at home, etc.

I was wondering if anyone out there might have had a similar experience with involuntary research?  There are very specific guidelines for experimental psychology and what I was put through is not something that would ever pass through an IRB.  I presume, but am not sure, that whoever is behind this has to abide by California law if the experimentation is done on SL. 

Any information that someone could provide would be very useful.  If there was other experimentation that involved:  more than minimal risks (eg extreme harassment) and was nonconsensual, I would love to hear about it and be in touch since there is something that can be done about this.


Thanks in advance.

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Your tale is a good reminder to never, ever, give out personal information to anyone. Regardless of how long people are "friends", in reality they're anonymous pixels on a screen. It's akin to going to a bar and sharing your info with random strangers you meet there.

Unfortunately, in this age of digital awakening, there's too many victims thanks to a total lack of know-how. It'll probably take a few generations to at least get the average user educated enough that they don't fall for the oldest tricks in the tried-and-true books of hacking and deception.

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Luena Sangria wrote:

Their stonewalling appears to be indicative of something - they have not investigated the SL part, they haven't even stopped the "harassers" from rerouting my internet at home, etc.

Unless you downloaded some kind of software that resets your DNS hosts file, it isn't possible for an outside party to "reroute" your internet. You'd do better to run a virus checker.

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Someone rerouted your home internet?  /me wonders how something like that happens

I've been in SL over four years and, fortunately, I have not had the kind of experiences you relate.  The best way to deal with those that harass you in SL is to mute them, ban them from your land and, basically, ignore them.  You can also AR them if they are doing anything malicious.

If things move into RL, that is when law enforcement enters the picture.  I am not surpirsed that they would not 'investigate' the SL part because that is not their jursdiction.  I mean, we are in a virtual environment, a game, if you will, where it is difficult if not impossible to prove someone's real identity without the aid of LL.

You are correct that any medical or psychological experimentation in RL must adhere to things like patient consent, Institutional Review Boards, etc.  Nothing like that exists in SL because this is an environment created by us and LL.

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Venus Petrov wrote:

...Nothing like that exists in SL because this is an environment created by us and LL.

 

Not so - LL, SL and therefore  we, while in SL, are still subject to the law of the land.  In this case Californian, US and other jurisdictions depending on the responsibilities they take - the OP's country, the harrassers' country, etc.

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Linden Lab and RL users are subject to RL laws.  What about avatars in SL?  Who takes care of griefing issues?  What about resident-to-resident disputes over SL matters?  Surely not the 'law of the land'.  If, however, harassment moves into RL and can be demonstrated that it has, then, yes, it is a matter for the RL legal authorities.

ETA: I have just repeated what I wrote in my prior post.  Perhaps you should re-read.

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Venus Petrov wrote:

Linden Lab and RL users are subject to RL laws.  What about avatars in SL?  Who takes care of griefing issues?  What about resident-to-resident disputes over SL matters?  Surely not the 'law of the land'.  If, however, harassment moves into RL and can be demonstrated that it has, then, yes, it is a matter for the RL legal authorities.

ETA: I have just repeated what I wrote in my prior post.  Perhaps you should re-read.

Depends on which land you're in, I think, Venus.  

I don't think it's ever been applied to SL but, in England and Wales, certainly, the Protection from Harassment Act says,

(1)A person must not pursue a course of conduct—

(a)which amounts to harassment of another, and

(b)which he knows or ought to know amounts to harassment of the other.

(2)For the purposes of this section, the person whose course of conduct is in question ought to know that it amounts to harassment of another if a reasonable person in possession of the same information would think the course of conduct amounted to harassment of the other.

It's not infrequently used against people who harass other people via Facebook and the like, and I see no reason, in principle, why it wouldn't apply to harassing someone in SL -- provided that the person doing the harassing is in the English jurisdiction when he's sitting at his keyboard griefing someone.

 

 

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Venus Petrov wrote:

I am open to reading about any successful claims against avatars in SL by legal entities anywhere in the world for harassment within the bounds of the SL 'world'.

It wouldn't be a "claim against an avatar," of course.   It would be -- at least in the UK -- a prosecution brought against an individual in the jurisdiction for following a course of conduct that a court thought constituted harassment, in the everyday sense of the word, in that they'd logged into their computer and harassed another internet user via SL.

A prosecution would be difficult, certainly, because the prosecuting authorities in the UK would need to find out from LL who actually operated a particular account, but I don't see that, for example, this young woman would have enjoyed any legal immunity from prosecution under English law had she issued her threats via SL rather than Facebook.  

 

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Right, and there's a recent case of a Minnesota man who made a hobby of successfully coaxing people online to commit suicide.

The thing is, as Venus rightly points out, the criteria for RL "harassment" is quite a bit different from SL, where "harassment" is just over the edge from "poor sportsmanship in gameplay."

I don't think we know the OP's story in anywhere near enough detail to guess whether there's RL harassment involved.  Unless there's been plausible threat of grievous bodily harm or actual property loss, seems to me (IANAL), a court would have little interest in the matter.

It also seemed that the complaint wasn't so much about RL harrassment as about violating research ethics.  In my experience, there are nearly as many make-believe "researchers" in-world as there are on forums, and the threat of losing an imaginary grant may not be all that compelling.

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I wasn't commenting on the OP's complaint; rather, I was just making the more general point that our conduct in SL is regulated by, among other things, the criminal law in force where we happen to be when we log into SL.    Not so long ago, members of an English white supremacist group got an unpleasant surprise when they were prosecuted here in England for incitement to racial hatred because of a website they ran in the USA.    The court told them that it wasn't interested in whether the site was or wasn't legal in Florida, where it was hosted, but it was interested in the fact they controlled the site, and uploaded material to it, from England.

As to SL, I think an English court would start from the basis that people have, in general, a perfect right to pursue their hobbies in peace and then try to decide the factual question of whether someone else's attempts to disrupt the complainant's attempts to pursue his or her hobby amounted to harassment in the everyday sense of the word.   

I'm pretty sure, for example, that some of Woodbury's activities, before they got banned, targetted against Prok, would have been illegal were any of the culprits in England while they were having their fun.

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Venus Petrov wrote:

Again, I am open to reading about cases where the identiy of a SL avatar has been forced from LL for prosecution.  SL is not FB.

That would certainly be a practical difficulty, though one doesn't know how LL, in practice,  would respond to a request from a British court to furnish information to assist in the investigation of criminal activities allegedly committed using their platform as a medium.

But the fact that LL might make it difficult to prosecute someone by not cooperating with the investigation doesn't alter the fact that there's  no legal barrier in the UK, as opposed to practical ones,  I can see to prosecuting someone for harassment (or anything else) using SL as a medium.

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Venus Petrov wrote:

Again, I am open to reading about cases where the identiy of a SL avatar has been forced from LL for prosecution.  SL is not FB.

I agree Venus.  In particular, SL is anonymous, whereas FB tries very hard to force everyone to be who they are.  If I don't want to consent to something in SL, I can tp away, mute, ban or just hit the the big red X in the upper right hand corner.

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I'm not paranoid.  Usually "paranoid people" don't have *evidence*  

I use X Netstat Professional.  It actually lists the name of the router my internet is going through.  I have the ethernet plugged in - it's not on wireless and viola!  The routers - there were two alternating shifts - were not the house router and one of them was from a different router brand.   I would call that "rerouting" the internet.  Printscreens of this happening constantly and more useful diagnostics points to a "rerouted" internet.  Perhaps you have a better name for what this is called?  When I use a reverse firewall along with this I can see I am connected to LL, but my internet is being "routed" through a router that we don't actually have at the house.  Welcome to America.

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People's insults aside - I am getting at something that you are bringing up - that is, whose law is in place? 

I have enough material to demonstrate that:  1) it is connected to RL harassment; 2) the "harassers" (experimenters) knew who I was priior to my entering SL; 3) the hacking was definitely connected to the harassment; 4) the tactics used were not limited to simple harassment - I've been *killed* in SL before by griefers and I didn't go to the police - I told them off and muted them- I am talking about something far more sinister including psychological priming.

If all of us are in California when we are in SL, is California law what takes precedent?  Otherwise if the laws of each place a person is physically in takes precedent, serious harassment (not stupid griefing) on SL constitutes a Federal crime (crossing state lines to stalk) rather than a California stalking crime, presuming the experimenters weren't all writing from the state I was in.  Since I moved states during this time, my assessment is that it is Federal jurisdiction.    If the persons are in different countries, I suppose it is also Federal in each place.

Believe me, if I had the means I would sue and that way all these legal issues could get resolved and I could get due compensation for my victimization.

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I am curious as to whether LL has a contract.  I don't think this was random.  I complained to SL several times via several avenues.  I also found something odd - when I connected to SL with a reverse firewall, my SL voice was not connecting to LL - it was trying to connect to some other IP.  The LL employee who attended this said that it was not a security glitch and rather that it was connecting to the IPs of the ppl on my SL.  This sounded like a hoax.  I then used an avatar with no friends added and the same thing happened.

I suppose that just like "port scanners" can try to get to computers through IM programs, they can do this through SL too. 

I don't want to say too much about my case, I would love to see it in court one day.

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I would love to share the details of my story, but I want to save it for court.  This is not a case of "psychological pressure" - I'm not a crybaby type, I've dealt with griefers of all kinds.  This was something different and more horrific.  But when the whole story is revealed I think people would understand what I'm talking about, what they were getting at etc.  While it comes nowhere near to explaining what happened to me  (since RL crimes were involved in my case), imagine for a moment that many of the people you knew in SL were using any information gained from you (not just your personal details, since these monsters already had those) to construct specific harassment against you both in SL and RL.

My questions have to do with the following - legal jurisdiction for harassment and experimentation, I understand that people who haven't gone through the h*** I was put through in SL might confuse this for some jerks griefing me.  It was not that.

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