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Crime & Justice Research Centre. VPN Virtual Policy '08 Governance of Virtual Worlds Dr. Matthew L. Williams Senior Lecturer in Criminology [email protected] Crime & Justice Research Centre. Forms of Governance Distal

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crime justice research centre
Crime & Justice Research Centre

VPN Virtual Policy '08

Governance of Virtual Worlds

Dr. Matthew L. Williams

Senior Lecturer in Criminology

[email protected]

crime justice research centre1
Crime & Justice Research Centre

Forms of Governance

  • Distal
    • Global International (e.g. United Nations)
    • Regional Supranational (e.g. European Union ENISA, Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime)
    • National (e.g. SOCA, e-crime unit within National Fraud Reporting Centre, HMRC, IWF)
    • National Regional (e.g. Local Police, ISPs)
    • Trans-national and national pressure groups made up of end-users (e.g. WHOA, CyberAngels)
    • User-imposed (e.g. software filters, firewalls)
  • Proximal
    • Corporate control
    • Virtual Government/Legal systems
    • Acceptable use policies
    • Codes of conduct/Game rules
    • World coordinators
    • Virtual Police Services
    • Social control/vigilante groups/shaming

[email protected]

crime justice research centre2
Crime & Justice Research Centre

What do Virtual World Users Think?

Distal or Proximal Governance?

“The laws [in virtual worlds] should come about as needed by the community & will no doubt be entirely different than real life laws.”

“As we exist in both online and offline communities the needs of the online community will have similar needs as the offline community.”

“Laws of real life *DO* and should apply to online activities. Anyone who thinks that when they go online that "anything goes" will have a rude awakening eventually. Enforcement of these RL laws online is seriously lagging due to the explosion of technology.”

[email protected]

crime justice research centre3
Crime & Justice Research Centre

What do Virtual World Users Think?

Formal Proximal Governance: Virtual Legal Systems, Police & Technology

“Forms of online punishment are not effective…one reboot and the offender is off and running again. Should the offender be disconnected at the ISP level, there are plenty of free ISPs they can turn to, re-enter and begin anew.”

“I think it will be a while before any effective type of regulation will evolve, so in the mean time we will have to put up with a bunch of stupid, over reactive, and poorly enforceable laws to deal with.”

“Online communities most severe form of punishment is banishment. For this to work it must be possible to actually identify who a user really is. Fortunately or not, the current technology makes it easy for a user to just re-incarnate themselves as another user and thwart that ultimate punishment.”

[email protected]

crime justice research centre4
Crime & Justice Research Centre

What do Virtual World Users Think?

Informal Proximal Governance: Social Control, Vigilantism & Shaming

“Were punishments effective? Mostly, the offending party usually left or modified his behaviour. Why? Because the offender was often shamed into modifying his behaviour as he was often publicly ridiculed for his abusive behaviour. As soon as the behaviour stopped, so did the ridicule.”

“I have been to worlds where harassers have been turned into toads because of their behaviour. Banning them from the community doesn’t work as they can get around the technical blocks. The only way to really make sure they stop is to make them feel small and ashamed.”

“Tech-blocks, world rules (and those outside in the real world), police (virtual or real!) are all useless at controlling bad behaviour online. The only way I’ve seen work is a good tongue lashing by other community members. If done in the right way and by enough people they usually shut up and behave or log off.”

[email protected]

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Crime & Justice Research Centre

A Role for the State?

  • ‘Much computer-related illegality lies beyond the capacity of contemporary law enforcement…security in cyberspace will depend on the efforts of a wide range of institutions’ (Grabosky and Smith 2001)
  • A continuum of regulation is required from order maintenance to law enforcement
  • Not realistic to seek immunity from state governance
  • Need co-operation from VW users
  • State intervention likely in economic issues and major public concerns
  • Resource constrains will force Governments to enlist the assistance of the private sector and the ‘online community’

[email protected]