23 February 2011

Kill zFire RedZone with fire!

I'm going to repeat my usual disclaimer here, just to pre-empt the whining and screaming that would otherwise follow. This post is purely my own opinions and thoughts. It is not a statement of The Phoenix Viewer Project, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of any other member of the Phoenix team. If you want to know what some other Phoenix developer thinks about this, ask them.

The subject of zFire Xue's RedZone system has ben a hot topic around SL for the past couple of weeks. RedZone is marketed as a tool against griefers and copybotters. It works by matching the avatar's name with its IP address by feeding the viewer a URL with the information encoded it it for that purpose and having it play it as media (a movie). The information thus collected is then used to link other avatars with the same IP address to that one, as an alt of that user.

This has many problems:
  • It's inaccurate. IP addresses are not normally fixed to a specific user. Even RedZone's own data server is on a dynamically-allocated IP address. Someone else who comes along behind a user on an IP address they've inherited will be listed as an alt of that user. People who use public access IP facilities, such as hotel wireless connections, will all be listed as alts of each other.
  • It violates the laws of several European countries which prohibit logging of IP addresses and associating them with any personally identifiable information.
  • It violates sections 8.2 and 8.3 of the Second Life Terms of Service, by transmitting content that violates users' privacy and is illegal.
  • It's nobody's $DEITY->damned business who my alts are.
The last is what makes this personal for me. Yes, I have alts. If I think you need to know about them, I will tell you. If not, I will not, and you have no right to know. That is my decision and mine alone. I have what I believe are more than good and sufficient reasons for keeping it that way. Don't like it? Too damned bad.

I'm far from alone in this belief. However, I am in a position to help users do something about it and keep their privacy.

First, I am working to make Sione Lomu's media whitelist/blacklist patch available in the mainline Phoenix and Firestorm viewers. The main code is present already in Phoenix. There are some refinements that need to be made; I'm working on them as quickly as I can. When it's ready, I will push as hard as I can to get a full Phoenix release out with that protection in place.

Next, I will, purely for myself and not as a part of the Phoenix project in any way, post instructions specifically on how to block RedZone with that facility. I will also do my best to make sure that they are widely spread around SL.

Finally, I will continue to work with others to help spread the word about RedZone and see that it is removed from places that people frequent. Put simply: Anyone who uses RZ is declaring war on their users' privacy, and they should be shunned.

I really wish it hadn't come to this. But since there's a war on, I intend to help the right side win it.

Now, anyone know of a good replacement for zFire Prim Animator? It may be the best thing out there to do that job (far better than Prim Puppeteer), but it has to go. I refuse to support its maker as long as he conducts a war on privacy.

1 comment:

  1. **Hands you a big pointy stick and a slice of thank you cake**