back to article Police aim to stamp out virtual child abuse

UK authorities involved in the fight against child abuse are increasingly concerned about the depictions of child abuse in Second Life, the online virtual world. A spokeswoman for Ceop (the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) told El Reg that part of its concerns stem from the possibility that someone with access …


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  1. Ted Treen

    Mixed signals?

    So virtual paedophile behaviour attracts the attention of real-world plod (if that isn't an oxymoron).

    However, virtual evisceration, murder, torturem theft, serial killing , creative sadism etc., will continue to be not only acceptable, but actively encouraged as doting parents everywhere buy Grand Theft Auto and others to give to their pre-pubescent offspring for Christmas, to celebrate the season of peace & goodwill.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not real fucking life

    not real

    not fucking real

    not fucking real life

    You can't fucking condem people for not commiting a crime!





    god fucking dammit.

    You can't arrest people for writing stories, you can't arrest people for drawing pictures, you can't arrest people for fucking with numbers, you can't fucking arrest people for talking, you can't arrest people who havn't caused fucking harm you basterds. You can't do it. It isn't fucking right.

    You just can't do it.

    The whole "well if these people go on to abuse a child what then?" Well then you fucking arrest them for the crime they've commited!

    In a fair and just society you do not persecute or convict people who have not commited a crime. And you don't just make up crimes becouse they may lead to other crimes.

    You don't say the act of buy a knife means you may be about to murder someone so you will be arrested for attempted murder.

    People who draw violent pictures don't get arrested for being about to commit violent acts (unless they're a Muslim.)

    I don't really care if you don't like what it is they're doing, I don't like it, but I'll hear nothing of this fucking faggatory about convicting people who havn't harmed anyone.

    For it to be a crime there has to be some degree of physical, emotional or financial harm (or assitance e.g. looking at child porn makes you complicit in the act unless you immediatly report what you found if you come across it or hiding someone who is sought by the police.)

    Now I have no issue with observing these groups if the plan is to then further investigate to see if these people are really abusing children in real life. But making cg and drawings illegal is just bullshit.


  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The furries....

    ..have to groom to keep the lice down. ;)

    Seriously though, isn't it a little odd that Second Life don't police this themselves, surely it'd be in their own interests for it not to be associated with child molesters?

  4. Rob
    Dead Vulture

    Bunch O' retards

    "Ceop's primary concern is the possibility that Second Life, or other virtual environments, might be misused to groom youngsters for abuse"

    OMG!! we must bad air asap, people might misuse it as a medium to do bad things, won't someone think of the children!!!

    and while we are at it, all the crimes i hear of seem to have been commited under the influence of both gravity and bread, ban em both!!

  5. Tony Barnes
    Thumb Down

    Yey, another battle for the thought police...

    Firstly, I disagree wholeheartedly with paedophilia - I find it repugnant, and those involved in acts against children should be given the strongest sentences available.

    However, this is not paedophilia. This is people engaging with each other over the internet in a manner of their choosing. To try and "combat" it, or whatever, is trying to make it illegal to have these thoughts. Which is outrageous.

    Back in Roman days if you weren't shagging your mother, brother, son, local castrated boys, etc, you were the one who wasn't in the norm.

    Today, we have laws that prevent us from the above, and it is by these laws our sense of "decency" prevails. However, just because it isn't decent to do these things, how does anyone have the right to stop someone thinking them, when after all, they are just thoughts?? They are in essence just out of sync with our time line.

    I predominantly play shoot 'em ups and car games on my 'box. Running around killing people, and driving at 100+mph in a city are both illegal, yet to do so in a game or on-line community is perfectly acceptable, as it is fiction.

    If these sort of powers are given to authorities, to ban thoughts as they choose, then this is a very sorry state we live in, and a million miles from being a democracy.

    Everyone has the right to think what the hell they like, and interact with others about those thoughts. If they then physically act on it, and break a tangible physical law (not some bullshit cyber one they're trying to push), then fair cop, book 'em.

    Otherwise, leave them alone and work on some useful laws that prevent the good guy getting screwed over, instead of wasting your time on ludicrous scare story laws that are an irrelevant waste of time and resource.

  6. Cameron Colley

    Fantasy is just that?

    While I find it sick that some people will carry out "virtual abuse", I'm not convinced that it would make them want to do it in real life. As an example (can't believe I'm admitting to this) I once "dated" a vampire on SL, so she was technically dead, but I'm not about to dig up a corpse!

    Similarly, I don't try to fly off high buildings in my every day life (well, not while I'm sober, anyhow.

    As for the abuse of real children using internet chat of any kind (after all, Second Life is just glorified IRC in that respect) -- I still fail to understand how this can happen, how do you touch someone through a computer? Any parent who doesn't teach their children that out in the world there are people who want to steal from you or hurt you isn't fit to have children -- don't parents teach children "don't talk to strangers, don't get into strangers' cars, don't accept sweets from strangers..." any more? Just how bad are some modern parents that they can't teach their children the difference between fantasy and reality, and the basics of "survival"?

  7. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    More Thought Crime...

    So the contents of your hard drive, be they "terrorist materials" or "extreme porn" are heading towards being evidence of crime and now we have "virtual child abuse" too.

    It seems that our ever protective Nanny State is so unwilling to trust us that even just *thinking* or *fantasising* about something is prima facie evidence of criminal intent and thus we should be locked up by Big Brother just to be on the safe side.

    But, tell me, isn't murder be worse than (or at least as bad as) child abuse? So thinking about it or writing elaborate plans for it should clearly be an offence as well.

    So everyone who writes crime fiction where someone is murdered is obviously a danger and a threat to society and should be locked up because whilst they're only fantasising about it now, it might "incite" them or someone else to actually *do* something in the future...

  8. elder norm

    World, we have a problem here....

    While there are many and varied "sick" types of people and things that they do, I totally agree that you cannot take fiction and make it illegal.

    All video games would be illegal (especially any "first shooter" games). Why even the mention of the game could be illegal since it would involve killing, stealing, doing dangerous or illegal things.

    Then all writing should be illegal since,,,,, see above.

    So I totally agree that we need to leave these areas alone. ITs just scary thinking about what these "banning this, that and the other" people could be up to. :-(

  9. Stephane Mabille


    To reply to "Anonymous coward":

    Yes of course you can arrest and detain people for what they are vaguely thinking, that's called post 911 Cheney freedom and unfortunately it's spreaded around the world (with or without military action).

    You think that current US is crap, you are a dangerous terrorist.

    You play out fantasy in 2nd life, you are a sick pervert.

    Now seriously, as far as I know there is no serious study on the impact of "acting" fantasy in a virtual world.

    I'm one of those who believe that it probably has a positive impact by reducing the small proportion of those who might have acted them in real life if they didn't had the opportunity to virtually let it go. But I'll suspect that I will be booed (maybe not here, but by all the over qualified sociologists, psychiatrists and other specialists composing the Daily Mail lectorate) that will clearly confirm that at least 2 psychopaths have at some point in their life played a videogame (and probably smoked a spliff and drink a glass of water -water mother of all evil, seriously Hitler drinked water-).

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I think that an International law should be passed making it legal to investigate the people participating in virtual rape of children in Second Life to see if there is any reason to believe they have been doing it in real life. People who take risks like that should know that they are giving up a piece of their privacy every time they look at anything relating to child porn - it is a risk they take to satisfy their awful desires. A law like this wouldn't affect people not participating in these reprehensible activities.

  11. Anonymous Coward


    Ban sweets, biscuits, lolipops, candy floss, dolls, toy cars, dogs and cats.

    You could argue that any of the above things can be used in the act of engaging a young child for the purposes of grooming......

    Or you could just make the punishment for harming a child much harsher. I would argue to move the entire pedo population of england to a small uninhabited island in the middle of the pacific and drop supplies by plane every once in a while....

    Or you could be realistic and say that you'd rather have an outlet for these sicko's to get their jollies off, however abbhorrant it is, rather than with your long as it stays that way and if they cross over capital punisment is in order.

  12. Brent Alldred


    I agree ytou should be allowed to do whatever you want in a (Consenting) virtual environment. As there is no victim, hence no crime.

    However after discussions about this with Wifey (Psychiatrist) she pointed out that engaging in this behaviour.

    Even if the behaviour is between consenting adults pretending to be abuser and abused, then it is FACT that these behaviours lead to an escalation of activities and eventually could lead to child abuse, or attempted child abuse.

    Now obviously the only evidence for this is from people who have been through the medical system for committing said abuses. So they have to offend to show the above evidence.

    Everyone else who does the virtual abusing but never gets in trouble IRL, will never be included in the above escalating behaviour observation.

    Our joint consclusion was:-

    "Hmmm, difficult one this."

  13. JM


    Linden Lab do police this. Their banning of accounts involved in virtual "sexual ageplay" caused a furore amongst the free speech advocating users. They took this hardline stance on account of this kind of virtual depiction of child sex already being illegal in countries like Germany.

    They have to know about it first, though, and that's probably like expecting someone at an ISP to go through every single USENET post on the chance of finding something awry.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Urm, maybe we should ...

    ... consider making some things &/or thoughts illegal. I appreciate the thoughts of the people here with regard to censorship, however, perhaps they don't have children and have no concept of what this kind of abuse really is ? I have not personally experienced it, but I know people who deal with it as part of their job, and quite frankly making any sort of it illegal is by far the best thing to do. So what, we might persecute some pervert who, quite frankly, needs help - but we prevent others from going further to abuse children, grooming or worse. Think greater good people - one pervert, or as in a case local to me recently, 62 children - shoot the pervert - better in the long run.

  15. Arse Face


    Since the inhuman race never ceases to amaze me anymore, maybe its safer to have these weirdo's on that website. At least while they're getting their kicks out of a virtual world, it might just stop them from doing it in the real world. Paedophilia will never be eradicated. Fair enough, people will say 'but what if they see something on there & go and re-enact it...' Well I'm sorry, but they are going to do it anyway, regardless of whether a website can cater for their needs or not. Seemingly, it's another sexuality. You're either into child sex, or you're not. Nobody can change them, and we can't lock them up because our prisons are full of much more dangerous criminals like fraudsters & car theives. And while we've got judges and high profile celebs being caught with dubious images, it is obvious it's a deep rooted problem, so maybe letting them live out their fantasies on a website for the socially challenged is the best thing to do.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Brent Alldred

    However are those stats simply of people who have escalated as opposed to a group in general seen as generally only people who have gone on to commit actual crimes are accesible?

    (e.g. only people who are sick or have been criminal end up in the system - people who have not commited crime or averted the law do not end up in the system.)

    Studies via the system are all well and good but it is only a small sample.

    Much like saying coffee drinkers will become heroine addicts becouse almost all heroine addicts also drink coffee.

    I'm not saying it isn't true.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Brent Alldred

    Also by the same logic as shady and dodgy as it may be, one would be perfectly justified (that according to all the people we have arrested/sectioned for child sex crimes who have ageplayed were caught for child sex crimes - you see my point) to arrest all Muslims for terrorism (becouse all Muslim terrorists we have arrested for terrorism have been Muslim.)

    It's a petty point but one worth pointing out.

    Anyway I'd have no problem with second life banning it just becouse it's fucked up. But that's different from criminal.

  18. Tony Barnes

    @ Brent

    "Even if the behaviour is between consenting adults pretending to be abuser and abused, then it is FACT that these behaviours lead to an escalation of activities and eventually could lead to child abuse, or attempted child abuse."

    Sorry, but that's bollocks. Where the hell was that "fact" pulled from? As per the video game examples, where please is the evidence of mass genocide perpetrated by spotty bored youths? If you're going to reference one of the multiple shootings in America, please also consider the prevailing medications factors in those, which seem to take the credit quite happily.

    Even then, assuming there has been 50 incidents where game violence was cited as a cause for the real world violence (which it wasn't - pig ignorant parenting, useless social structure, dodgy medication, etc, are all far bigger players IMO), and that has come from tens of millions of such games being sold, it's fair to say that scaling to a few thousand pervs would result in zero cases.

    If previously someone had been happy doing this just on a computer, but then found that to be banned, then you're more likely to get someones goat up, and get them out there with their sweety jar...

    Thinking on, I wonder how many extra visitors that 2nd life place has got since the news broke... they must be making a killing

    (pun intended)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Urm, maybe we should ...

    But why? If you arn't causing harm in anyway (physically, emotionally, financially or being complicit in an act that causes harm) why on earth should you be punished.

    It isn't about protecting free speech or censorship. It's about being just - you can only go after and convict people who have commited crimes. You can't convict people for having fantasies and call yourself just.

    As hard as it is to accept for most people in order for you to have harmed a child you have to have harmed a child, until the point a person does so they are innocent of a crime. Harm of course includes grooming (becouse the aim of grooming is to lessen a childs defences so that they are more compliant to an offenders advances. It also includes viewing actual child pornography becouse you are complicit in the act.)

    In a just and free society the fact of the matter is that crimes will happen, terrible, horrible crimes, and there is tragedy and suffering. There is hate, fear, and poverty. But it will be just, it will be fair, and in the long run I think that people in such a society will be happier, freer, more creative and safer then a society that is guarded, fearful and unjust.

    It isn't right to convict people just becouse there is a chance that they could commit an offence.

    *sigh* but having argued these points before I get bored and tired becouse there are people who are deluded and think that it is better to just lock people up (and I'm sure it would be safer - damn while we're at it lets lock up all the Blacks, Muslims, homeless people, poor people and single men.) But whatever - you deserve another bel air.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    another thing

    you were to send 100 men to prision for virtual sex "crimes" but only one of those people were really going to commit an offence (probably against thier own child as most child abuse is in the family).

    Is it right to sacrifce 99 otherwise completly normal lives (bar a dodgy fetish) to save 1 or 2 lives. My answer obviously is no. It's like saying "Hey killing 6 million jews, gypseys, communists and homosexuals was justified becouse it ment all the normal good honest Germans could get jobs and the country became strong." (Until it lost)

  21. Dave Bell

    The graphics are better in ASCII, but what do we label as "children"?

    Current child porn law in the UK criminalizes images of lawful sexual activity. The age of consent is 16. The child porn law sets the limit at 18.

    OK, so we all think we're talking of the abuse of children, but the law classes people old enough to marry (and bonk their brains out) as "children". I don't want to see under-18s in the porn industry, but calling them "children" is a debasement of the language.

    Unfortunately, in my time playing on-line games, though text based, I have seen people involved in pretty blatant ageplay. Not the sexually curious teenager, illegal in some places but not others, but playing the genuine child.

    It's disturbing. I do wonder what these people might be doing in reality. I don't feel comfortable about protecting them, or tolerating them. But then I look at the "protect the children" insanity that can regard a married couple as "children", and I wonder when the lunatics will come after me because of my tastes.

    To be honest, I doubt computer graphics are up to the demands of live on-line porn. But how long before the lunatics erase the border between badly-drawn pictures and text? And what will that do?

  22. BitTwister

    @Brent Alldred

    > eventually could lead to child abuse, or attempted child abuse.

    Or could NOT, in the same way that video game users DO NOT drive around at 100MPH gunning down people. Or even aliens.

    Isn't there also a school of thought saying (basically) that by acting out fantasies (of whatever sort) any desire to make them real is pretty much dissipated?

    I mean really - attempting to ban a fantasy? How and to what level could that be expected to succeed, and why are the murderous fantasies available in many games apparently more acceptable? Shouldn't that evil Potter boy also be "stamped out" for corrupting the minds of young Christians?

  23. Steve Roper

    OH PLEEEEZE won't SOMEBODY think of the CHILDREN!

    Er... what children would those be? That section of SL requires you to be 18+ with a credit card to get in, so how the hell are these people going to "groom" children who supposedly CAN'T get in there?

    Or does the credit card requirement and 18+ restriction no longer apply because little Timmy could "borrow" Mummy's credit card and find his way in? Must we assume that even areas MARKED and RESTRICTED to adults only can now be infiltrated by children, and so therefore nobody is allowed to make any form of expression anywhere, on the off chance a child MIGHT see it?

    It's easy to label the ageplayers as sickos, but in reality most of them would simply be reliving childhood memories. Criminalising and persecuting them is vile and unjust. How old were YOU when you first noticed the other sex was "cute"?

  24. Marco

    Re: Yey, another battle for the thought police...

    "Back in Roman days if you weren't shagging your mother, brother, son, local castrated boys, etc, you were the one who wasn't in the norm."

    Mr. Barnes, you have watched way too many bad sandal flicks. Incest in Roman times was as frowned upon as today and castrates were a thing of the Egyptian court and of the Galli priests of Cybele. Roman children wore long-sleeved tunicae, until they came of age at 14-16, to protect them from unsavoury glances.

    Re: Well,,,

    "However after discussions about this with Wifey (Psychiatrist) she pointed out that engaging in this behaviour.

    Even if the behaviour is between consenting adults pretending to be abuser and abused, then it is FACT that these behaviours lead to an escalation of activities and eventually could lead to child abuse, or attempted child abuse."

    Mr. Alldred, you might want to tell your wife that it is not proven that these behaviors escalate. Instead, much like using pornography or the services of a prostitute for a heterosexual man, they might as well bring relief to those who relinquish in these activities - instead of being allowed to build up pressure and then be acted upon in an explosive manner.

    There is still no definite answer what is more likely. If your wife conducted scientific research that gives a clear answer pertaining to this matter, I'd be glad if you could point me to it.

  25. Risky

    Did any of you read the article?

    They didn't say they intended to prosecute anyone for getting up to some virtual child abuse on sadville, but they were looking at this to see if they find some RL paedos lurking in there.

    Again, for the slow, they do NOT plan to prosecute anyone for being a virtual-perv, you can bugger as many babies as you like on SL safe from Mr Plod provided you don't try in out in RL.

  26. Tony Barnes

    lol, fair enough...

    ...a little off the mark with the incest side of things, was just highlighting how what is sociably acceptable in one era, is not in another. Like smoking in a pub is now considered despicable...

    I shall go brush up on my knowledge of Rome, I'm pretty sure Up Pompei box-sets must be on offer somewhere..

  27. Sceptical Bastard

    Virtual peadophilia - the FUD and the fury

    The sort of pathetic specimens who are taken in by Sadville are already beyond the pale so the fact that some of them want to pretend to fuck children - or even pretend to be fucked children themselves - comes as no surprise, creepy and offensive though it is. If the frothing moralisers and censors are going into repression overdrive about Linden Labs dupes being reality-divorced weirdoes they might as well ban Second Life entirely.

    The contention that enacting fantasies in computer games and virtual worlds inevitably spills out into actual activity, legal or otherwise, is palpable rubbish and unsupported by the majority of scientific studies. A few nutters will enact their fantasies: the rest of us never indulge them. For example, much as we may dream of doing so, we resist the urge to string up the bullying self-appointed moral arbiters who set themselves up as thought police.

    On a related tack, CEOP must be a flawless evidence-based, independent and utterly impartial body because it was set up by the Home Office as an offshoot of the Serious Organised Crime Agency. Gives you confidence, that, eh?

    OMG! I've just committed thought crime! I expect the police will trace my IP and be kicking my door down before nightfall.

    I used to be intensely proud to be British. Now, thanks to Blair, Blunkett, Brown and their kind, I'm frightened by, and ashamed of, this police state - mass CCTV surveillance, ID card schemes, shoot-to-kill squads, rafts of repressive legislation, febrile government fear-mongering.

    Every day I feel more like Winston Smith .

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    you learn to read you slow piece of dung

    "The UK government is considering legislation that would make computer-generated indecent images depicting children clearly illegal. "


  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @Ted Treen

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

    What a relief to finally see someone else talking sense on this ridiculous double standard.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Urm, maybe we should ... (again, again)

    Sorry futher to my last post :

    "Protection of Children Act 1978 (England & Wales)

    To take, or permit to be taken, or to make any indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child; or to distribute or show such indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs; or to possess such indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs, with a view to their being distributed or shown by himself or others; or to publish or cause to be published any advertisement likely to be understood as conveying that the advertiser distributes or shows such indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs, or intends to do so."

    I rest my case that they are guilty ... Incidentally, before you all jump up and down on the "photograph" section, a lot of the Act refers to "images" not "photographs" ...

    ( Shoot them ... )

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Brand new MMORPG Game Danger

    These sickos should be hung. Even worse than Second Life is this new game spreading around called "The Brain". Advertised as the "ultimate organic fantasy role playing environment", it is popluated by perverts "virtually" acting out super realistic sick fantasies. In "The Brain" people do things like kill their annoying parents with medieval torture devices, act out sexual fantasies that they would never dream of enacting in real life, and imagine winning vast amounts of money on lotteries and then blowing all their winnings on orgies of fast cars, illegal drugs, and sexual impropriety. This phoenomenon should be closely controlled by the police. I suggest giving them access to "Brains" as well. We need our guardians to be fully equipped to control these ill conceived "Thought Processes" else our children will turn into Godless demons.

  32. Simon B

    anonymous cowardly ....

    To do THOSE kind of things in a virtual world is to act out a SICK fantasy, it has to be asked how many of those who defend it so visciously are the pedo's in question?! No names mentioned but lets randomly pick a poster who threw all his doys and dummy out of his pram - The FIRST Anonymous Coward, why is it YOU want people to act out sick fantasys? Do you get kicks from this kind of thing or are you preparing for the next step?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Urm, maybe we should ... (again)

    Funnily enough, I think that according to UK law they probably have commited a crime ... It is certainly a crime to edit a photo to make it appear as if a child is being abused, even if it didn't actually happen. And ...

    "Obscene Publications Act 1959 & 1964

    The law makes it an offence to publish, whether for gain or not, any content whose effect will tend to "deprave and corrupt" those likely to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it. This could include images of extreme sexual activity such as bestiality, necrophilia, rape or torture."

    I guess that pseudo paedo action probably qualifies under the above quite neatly as well ...

    So, whilst I can agree that perhaps we aren't seeing "justice" per se, the law certainly has it in the bag, and on existing legislation anyway ...

    ( I still vote to take them all out and shoot them by the way ... )

  34. Chris Bradshaw


    I am not a fan of first-person type shooter games, I think they decrease our natural resistance to harming other people. But I am even less of a fan of pedophilia... I would probably enjoy shooting games more if there was a good reason to 'kill' the 'enemy'.

    What about if Second Life allowed shooting (ala Doom or Halo), with a 'time-out' (for the victim, or for both parties) after someone is shot? I think a lot of people would turn 'vigilante' - go and look for crimes such as virtual pedophilia and avenge the victims. And people would quickly learn that some behaviours are really unacceptable, even in a 'virtual' world. For someone who just wanted to try it for kicks, the possibility of getting shot would probably add to the adrenalin rush (or whatever it is they get out of it :-/ )

  35. Steve Roper

    @ Simon B

    Nobody who has posted here wants people to act out sick fantasies, as you put it. Many would like people to BE ABLE to act out their fantasies in VIRTUAL space, sick or otherwise, without fear of persecution.

    Violent/sexual video games provide an outlet for anger by allowing us to do things we'd never do in real life. It's amazing how stress-relieving a good round of gaming can be; for my part, I enjoy playing Age of Empires II (an old classic) because it feels good to be able to run my huge and merciless army over an opponent's town murdering all their villagers. It's a great stress relief after a rough day at the office; I might set up a computer opponent and give it the name of a rude customer, or the RIAA, and then rape its arse off in the game.

    That you want to impose limits on people's expressions of their fantasies makes you one of those "bullying self-appointed moral arbiters who set themselves up as thought police" referred to by Sceptical Bastard above. I agree with him in that post; reading yours made me want to string you up too. You have no right whatsoever to dictate to me or anyone else how we may choose to express ourselves in virtual reality, or to judge others by your arbitrary moral standards.

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