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Under the banner of ‘ER-910’, it seems that Linden Lab is working on a new privacy feature – one which has been requested by some users since 2005 or earlier, but which the Lab rejected on a number of occasions.

The new feature comes in the form of an additional parcel property (like no-push, no-rez, no-fly, etc) called (tentatively)  ‘Hidden Avatars’.

In practice, if the option is set on a parcel all avatars on that parcel will be hidden from view from any user who is not also within the boundaries of that parcel.

Sort of like Space Ghost’s inviso-power, the flagged parcel will simply appear to have nobody present. Looking through the code and changesets doesn’t reveal if the presence of avatars on the parcel would be revealed by the mini-map – the majority of changes would be in the server-side code, and we can only snoop at the development code and assets for the viewer.

This particular feature has been the subject of contentious debate in the past. Some feel that it would further exacerbate the illusion of emptiness in Second Life, while others – well, they just don’t much like to be snooped on. Debate on the topic has always trended towards the heated and vociferous, with Linden Lab remaining on the side-lines and rejecting the proposal whenever it appeared.

As yet, there’s no sign of when – or even if – this particular feature will be released. It’s possible that it won’t make the cut, though it looks fairly complete at this stage.

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