Linden Lab is hiring a Senior Compliance Analyst for Sansar, and the job description vividly illustrates just how deadly serious a job like that has become. Used to be that a role like this might focus mainly on everyday consumer issues like credit card fraud/misuse (i.e. kids secretly using their parents’ cards to buy virtual gold). Nowadays, however, it reads like a job description for someone in the FBI.
The official position description from the Linden Lab website reads as follows:
The ideal candidate for this position will be responsible for supporting and maintaining various compliance activities and programs, including the Customer Identification program and associated vendor management processes. Responsible for monitoring and assessing compliance issues concerning the patterns and trends associated with money laundering and other potential compliance-related risks. Assist with mitigating money laundering, terrorist financing, fraud related risks, and gathering data and documents for state exams.
This posting comes about six months after a woman who was Linden Lab’s information security director, Kavyanjali Pearlman, was let go by the company. Ms. Pearlman later filed a lawsuit against Linden Lab (according to a WIRED article on the lawsuit):
A lawsuit filed by the former information security director of Linden Lab—the company behind the online virtual world Second Life, which, yes, is still a thing—claims the company mishandled sensitive user data and turned a blind eye to…the potential for money laundering.
In a lawsuit filed in San Francisco County Superior Court on July 30 and served to Linden Lab on Tuesday, Kavyanjali Pearlman, a security researcher who joined Linden Lab from Facebook in 2017, says that she raised these issues during her tenure, and was met with hostility. The suit alleges company executives retaliated against her for flagging cybersecurity risks and potential violations of anti-money-laundering laws…
“While we will fight her alleged claims in court, we deny any allegations that the company has engaged in any illegal activity,” said Linden Lab spokesperson Brett Atwood. “Ms. Pearlman left the company on March 15 only after she was given the opportunity to improve her work performance. We look forward to all the facts coming out in a court of law,” he said, declining additional comment because of the lawsuit.
Well, it would now appear that Linden Lab is choosing to throw some more resources at the potential misuse of its products, Second Life and Sansar, for money laundering purposes. You might remember that this is one of the reasons why Linden Lab recently instituted new regulations regarding the cashing out of money from Second Life, citing the need to respond to new U.S. financial laws.
Which leads me to wonder: how are the other metaverse-building companies responding to the same issue of potential money laundering happening on their platforms, using their in-world currencies? Particularly if they are based in the United States, they are subject to the same American regulations as Linden Lab. How are they responding?
The more I monitor all the social VR and virtual worlds I cover on this blog, the more I realize that any company building a social VR platform or virtual world has got to be able to juggle an overwhelming number of technological, political, and legal issues, all at the same time. I’m quite sure that a few of the newer platforms have probably never even stopped to consider money laundering and other financial compliance risks. It’s time they woke up to a new reality, before federal agents come knocking on their doors.