November 15th, 2007 by Wendy McAuliffe
I worked for teenage virtual world Habbo Hotel in its early start-up days, and was fascinated to read this morning that police in the Netherlands have arrested a 17 year-old suspected of stealing virtual objects from other Habbos.
It is believed to be the first time European officers have arrested someone for stealing virtual property. According to reports, five other teenagers are also being questioned over the theft, which is thought to have netted items worth around â‚¬4,000 (Â£2,800).
Hackers and thiefs (known as scammers) have been an ongoing problem for Habbo Hotel, and the community’s success has to a large extent rested on its ability to both technically and manually deal with these trouble makers.
Sulake, the Finnish company behind Habbo Hotel, has always taken a firm approach to anyone trying to damage the user experience, as for one, its community is largely made-up of children and teens. But it amazes me that it’s taken more than five years for Europen police to come up to speed on dealing with an issue like this. Virtual property laws in the UK have to date been largely untested (well as far as I’m aware).
As the internet infiltrates more and more of our daily lives, it’s crucial that offline laws are equally as applicable online. Let’s hope the Habbo example goes down in case history.
P.S. The image at the top is my old room in Habbo Hotel ‘newsbox’!