A few months ago, I wrote about a highly controversial program that was showing up in Sims all over Second Life called zF RedZone. This piece of software was allegedly designed to help sim owners detect alts (secondary characters) for griefers and other malicious actors and ban them from the territory. It turned out that the means by which RedZone determined who was an alt was a rudimentary hack that peeked into the user’s IP address. The problem, of course, is that IP addresses are dynamic and don’t always link back to the same individual. Two people sharing a network will have the same IP address, which can lead to false associations and other problems, all of which I examined in the earlier post.
In response, a clever programmer going by the name PeterSeller has created a RedZone detection program that can alert users if they enter an area scanned by RedZone called, you guessed it, GreenZone. There’s a portable heads-up display (HUD) version that travels with you and sends warnings when entering a hostile area, which allows users to boycott sims and shops that use it. It can also be placed on a sim or prim by sim owners who don’t use RedZone to alert visitors that they are safe from spying.
The script is free, so you don’t have much to lose. I have to admire the designer’s creativity. Rather than complain in forums and wring his hands, PeterSeller did something about the problem. I do wonder, however, if this will lead to an arms race of identity detection and counter-detection technologies that will further bog down a world that is already showing its age. It also has some potential problems. Some users have complained that GreenZone scans beyond the specific parcel your avatar is on and will pop up an alert that there’s a RedZone area nearby. This may create a false positive if the user doesn’t read the alert text closely and just presumes that RedZone is active on that sim. That may be the reason for the fixable version, but it shows that it’s not a 100% perfect solution. Still, since the consensus is that RedZone is nothing but a front for malicious activity, it’s good to see that there are people out there fighting the good fight for the greater good.