Which part of consent can’t you understand?

Tonight, I’m just not going to be nice. You see, there are certain types of people who believe that, if we don’t call them out on their crass, abusive behaviour, we somehow “agree” with them and “accept” their antics. So, tonight I’m going to rail against them. I’m going to write about the issue of IM and chat log disclosure in Second Life. You may have run into certain people who have “IM disclosure disclaimers” on their profiles (or their profile picks). Before I begin, though, let me point you to Second Life’s Community Standards, as set forth by Linden Lab:

Disclosure

Residents are entitled to a reasonable level of privacy with regard to their Second Life experience. Sharing personal information about your fellow Residents without their consent — including gender, religion, age, marital status, race, sexual preference, alternate account names, and real-world location beyond what is provided by them in their Resident profile — is not allowed. Remotely monitoring conversations in Second Life, posting conversation logs, or sharing conversation logs without the participants’ consent are all prohibited.

Now, what is this thing called “consent”?

From the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

1. As an intransive verb:

Definition of CONSENT

1
: to give assent or approval : agree <consent to being tested>
2
archaic : to be in concord in opinion or sentiment
con·sent·er noun
con·sent·ing·ly

adverb

Examples of CONSENT

  1. He was reluctant at first but finally consented.
  2. <refused to consent to the marriage>

Origin of CONSENT

Middle English, from Anglo-French consentir, from Latin consentire, from com- + sentire to feel — more at sense

First Known Use: 13th century

Related to CONSENT

Synonyms
acquiesce, agree, assent, come round, accede, subscribe

Antonyms

dissent

2. As a noun

Definition of CONSENT

1
: compliance in or approval of what is done or proposed by another : acquiescence <he shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties — United States Constitution>
2
: agreement as to action or opinion; specifically : voluntary agreement by a people to organize a civil society and give authority to the government

Examples of CONSENT

  1. He did not give his consent for the use of his name in the advertisement.
  2. No one may use the vehicle without the consent of the owner.

First Known Use of CONSENT

14th century

Related to CONSENT

Synonyms
allowance, authorization, clearance, concurrence, permission, granting, green light, leave, license (or licence), sanction, sufferance, warrant

Antonyms

interdiction, prohibition, proscription

OK, now that we’ve put that part behind, let’s visit our beloved Wikipedia for the types of consent (stresses mine):

  • Implied consent is a controversial form of consent which is not expressly granted by a person, but rather inferred from a person’s actions and the facts and circumstances of a particular situation (or in some cases, by a person’s silence or inaction).
  • Expressed consent may be in verbal, nonverbal or written form and is clearly and unmistakably stated.
  • Informed consent is contrast to uninformed consent
  • Unanimous consent, or general consent, is a parliamentary procedure. This is when all parties are of one mind. It is contrast to single-sided consent or unanimous.

To provide consent for something means to agree to something; in communications in particular, in most legislations it is illegal for a person to record, log and disseminate their communications with anyone without informing them and ensuring the other party has given their consent – and, since communications may contain private and sensitive information, this needs to be verifiable and revocable. And if the consent is revoked, then you must respect this.

However, in Second Life, users’ privacy is not always respected (from scamware/spyware like the RedZone and the Gemini CDS Ban Relay to cyberstalkers and cyberbullies, Second Life, just like the internet, spoils us for choice in this regard). Those who surreptitiously and in an abusive manner log and arbitrarily disseminate people’s conversations with them (either for the “lulz” or for other, more unsavoury and nefarious reasons) frequently try to cover their asses with “IM disclosure disclaimers”, which are (a) lame, (b) misleading.

They are lame, because anyone can go back and read the ToS and the Community Standards and see that the “IM disclosure disclaimer” is pure bullshit; all they prove is that the person that posts such a disclaimer on their profile is a crass, abusive turd and that they are also utterly illiterate.

They are misleading (and, dare I say, fraudulent), because they aim to make other users give up their right to have their privacy respected by lying to them. Yes, people with IM disclosure disclaimers are frauds. There’s no other way to put it.

Let me now give you two prime examples of such IM disclosure disclaimers, as I saw them (again) today on the profiles of two SL users (one is rather well-known, the other is notorious).

According to Linden Labs, disclosure of logs without prior consent is a violation of the ToS.

I am clearly stating to you, that by IM’ing me, having read or not having read these statements, you consent to being logged and that those logs can be used at my discretion without any further notice beyond these statements in this “Pick”.

Further more, graphical rendering, voice chat, and all public chat is also subject to logging at any given time and may also be used at my discretion unless you say to me explictly that you do not wish to have your statements disclosed.

All matters conducted in plain view of a non-participating third party are considered public matters, even if in a private location within Secondlife and are therefore not subject to privacy regulations of the terms of service.

Let’s break this one down, shall we?
  1. Disclosure of logs is a violation of the Community Standards, idiot.
  2. I call bullshit. Reading something does not mean I agree to it. IMing you does not constitute that I agree for my conversation with you to be logged and/or disseminated to anyone. Finally, not having read your fraudulent, misleading and moronic disclaimer and seeing that you logged and disseminated my conversation with you only makes your position worse. If you have the IQ for it, figuring out why is something I’ll give you as homework.

And now let’s go to my all-time favourite:

Your abusive IM constitutes permission to publish your chat as I am in one-party consent New York State.

Again, bullshit. Why? Wikipedia to the rescue again:

Federal law requires that at least one party taking part in the call must be notified of the recording (18 U.S.C. §2511(2)(d)). For example, it would be illegal to record the phone calls of people who come into one’s place of business and ask to use the phone, unless they are notified.

And let me also point out that:

  1. The person in question has a rather bizarre and peculiar way of defining “abuse” (basically, if you disagree with them, you are abusing, griefing, flaming, insulting, trolling them – and they’re very quick to use the word “fucktard” for anyone that has an opinion that differs from theirs). Therefore, their interpretation leaks like a sieve.
  2. When the legislators drafted, submitted, passed and put into effect that law, what they had in mind was serious business, like gathering evidence, crime prevention, solving of criminal cases, recording communications for quality assurance, safety and security reasons, even for ensuring that someone (for instance, when someone calls 911) gets the help they need. They weren’t seeking to serve some petulant, self-aggrandising drama queen with a penchant for publicly bitching and whining about how every “fucktard” in the world is against her.
  3. Like it or not, logging and disseminating people’s conversations without their consent is against SL’s Community Standards. For someone who poses as a paragon of upholding the ethics, morals and rules of the SL community and who is so eager to lambast others, you clearly fail here. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, you know.
  4. Let me see you handle such an issue when you violate the privacy of a person living in a state that demands all parties to provide consent.

Now, what should other people do? Well, when you see a profile with this sort of disclaimer, I suggest you avoid talking to them. They’re certainly persons of a highly disrespectful and impolite nature and you really don’t want their drama in your lives. If you’re in the mood, feel free to AR them, just for good measure.

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Mona (formerly slutrix)

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See also:

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Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-7W

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First posted at: http://wp.me/p2RycE-7W

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4 thoughts on “Which part of consent can’t you understand?

  1. The one part that is stated in the first Pick Disclaimer that IS correct is the portion that relates to “Public Chat”. Many times the courts have upheld the concept of “Reasonable Expectation of Privacy” .. although most often regarding Security Cameras and the like. However open conversation in a public manner (such as Nearby or Local Chat) in a public setting (such as a public club, store or similar) is generally expected to be open to use in any manner as both parties implicitly recognize that they are not conversing in private.

    HOWEVER .. with that said .. an IM conversation is always private and REQUIRES explicit consent no matter where it is held or where the various parties happen to live. SL (and in fact ALL online chat methods) are completely separate from the physical location of the participants and thus cannot be governed by those locations.

    Overall I agree with you. Those folks that find it necessary to post such “Disclaimers” in their profile are obviously expecting to encounter drama. You reap what you sow .. as the old saying goes .. so it’s no wonder they find drama at every turn.

    Although while I do agree, I take the approach that any and everyone I chat with will at some point repost everything I say. Thus I try very hard to never say anything that might cause me harm in the future. Granted, I’ve been on the ‘net a long time and precious little is left that isn’t known about me (or that might harm me if it were to become known), but nevertheless I find it easier to just keep conversations banal and harmless until such time as I learn a bit more about the other person.

    1. Your approach is very reasonable, Darrius. Especially what you said about IM conversations, you very succinctly drew a line between logging and disseminating: while it may be useful to log IMs for future reference (for instance, someone forgot something that was said and needs/asks the other party to remind them, or when someone is explaining how a task is accomplished), disseminating IM conversations and blogging about them so that the person that disseminates the conversation can paint the other one in whatever negative light they might wish, this is backhanded, disrespectful and downright petty.

      And you are very right in keeping conversations as harmless as possible until you’ve found out more about the other person; it’s very sensible and it’s a good way for someone to protect themselves, especially given the large numbers of idiots out there.

      There’s something else I want to add about the second (the “notorious” one) person, the one that says she lives in “one-party consent” New York. I don’t think the state laws of New York allow people to arbitrarily disclose private communications without the other party’s consent… And it’s a damned pity, because such persons with their antics make SL as a community and SL as a platform look bad in the public eye.

  2. I was going to post a comment, but I see Darrius has been peeking into my head … again 🙂 …

    More seriously, I am in agreement with Darrius. Truth be told, whenever I come across any comments about *implied* consent should I peek into someone’s Profile – and as someone who explores & blogs about SL a lot, I admit I do mug-up on Profiles in order to try and gain some insight into the person behind the region / build /exhibit / installation I’m reviewing – they tend to go down in my mental “black book” as someone with whom I’ll only interact with a degree of circumspection – if not outright avoidance.

    In this, I do wonder if those who feel the need to post such statements in their Profiles actually perceive what they are saying about themselves. I suspect most don’t actually care; but I do feel a few – such as merchants / content creators who are given to including such statements alongside their store policies, etc – perhaps should.

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