Security Orbs – Abuse or not Abuse?

So you are flying along peacefully with a plane load of enthusiastic passengers and next without warning you find yourself watching the virtual daisies growing in your front yard and your unsuspecting passengers are scattered about who knows where.  It’s probably happened to all pilots at one time or another and is a big reason that what few landlocked airports exist in SL are more museums than active airports.

Or maybe you received a 20 second warning, cranked up the juice and got out of there safely and continued on your merry way. Certainly 20-30 seconds is enough to escape anything other than a full sim parcel right?

So the question comes to mind, do you feel abused by the above? Certainly the second scenario at least gives you a chance to escape the wrath of the security orb and politely leave the parcel. The first one not so much.

So lets start with a few facts:

  1. Common ban lines, that is those that do not specify a named avatar, extend to a maximum of 50m above the land.
  2. A named avatar ban extends to the maximum rezzing height.
  3. A security orb has the option of kicking you off the parcel or forcing a teleport home.

Starting with point 1, common bans (group access and access list based restriction) was clearly designed to allow uninterrupted overflight. Were this not the case, these types of bans would be total (i.e. maximum height).

A ban on a specific person extends up to the maximum effective height. These types of bans are needed to deal with griefers and other specific unwelcome guests. Not at all intended to ban the general population from overflight.

This is where security orbs come in. A security orb has little value within 50m of the land since general population ban is effective at that level. The primary function of a security orb then is to build a gap between what Linden Labs intended by setting the maximum common ban to 50m vs what the land owner desires for privacy.

The overarching question here is, does this constitute abuse? On the surface, the answer seems to be a cut and dried “yes”.  But not so fast. A quick review of the knowledge base reveals a degree of tolerance for scripted tools for access management (a.k.a. “orbs”) (Ref: SL Knowledge Base: Managing Your Parcel:

Script Use

You can use scripted objects to enhance your land ownership tools. Generally, such scripts should:

  • Provide adequate warning to the undesired Resident.
  • Only work within the property lines (this includes projectiles that cannot operate beyond the parcel boundaries).
  • Not be excessive in the removal of the unwanted Resident. Pushing an avatar off the property or teleporting them home is generally acceptable; intentionally applying a script to disrupt someone’s Second Life connection or online status is not allowed.

Scripts or no scripts, you cannot use land ownership as a way to unfairly restrict another Second Life Resident’s personal freedoms.

Like or no like, this block in an official publication clearly condones the use of security orbs and does not restrict their use by height. So we are stuck with them.

However please note the first bullet point. This text clearly calls to “Provide adequate warning…”.  Combining this with the third point, while use of security orbs is acceptable, there is an expectation of reasonable usage without malicious intent.

That said, I submit that zero-warning security orbs ARE abusive. This clearly violates the intent of the above knowledge base article.  Anything short of sufficient time for the avatar to clear the airspace affected in a reasonable amount of time should constitute a reportable abuse and this entry in the knowledge base supports that.

There are of course two problems. First, obviously an actual abuse report isn’t likely to bring much attention in this case. Simply put, LL is a big company and you are a small fish. Should anyone decide to pursue this matter, be sure to have the above reference handy.

Second problem is, these orbs don’t exactly make it easy to identify the owner. Once they hit you, you cannot gain any insight to the land to find out the responsible person. The best workaround to that is to go back the next day to a nearby parcel and do a land view without entering the offending parcel. The thing is, most of these orbs set a timed ban of a couple of hours. This is to avoid filling up their ban list. Once that ban is cleared, you will be able to extract information on the parcel without actually entering the parcel and getting tossed again.

llTeleportHome

Unfortunately, the previously referenced knowledge base article specifically condones the use of llTeleportHome with security orbs. While this command has its place on private estates, it is and has been for years my opinion that this function should be disabled on mainland regions. Its use alone in my view violates the spirit of the opening line of bullet point three and the final paragraph of the knowledge reference.

On a private estate, there is simply no place to send an unwanted avatar except home. But for mainland, the powers of an orb to thoroughly disrupt someone’s activities and travels clearly conflicts with the spirit of the overall statement.

Summary

In closing, here are my conclusions for what they are worth:

  1. Security orbs with sufficient warning to clear the area are not abusive.
  2. Zero warning security orbs are abusive.
  3. Orbs that force teleport home are not abusive but should be.

Sadly security orbs are here to stay and there is no getting rid of them.  But it would be great if we could see the end of llTeleportHome.

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