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House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee to Hold Virtual Hearing

The House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee wants a tour of the virtual world.

The subcommittee, which oversees communications issues, scheduled a hearing April 1 on Web sites like Second Life and Zwinky, where surfers create their own characters, or avatars.

Among the legislators' concerns are the safety of such environments and the use of real currency in the online worlds.

In addition to media companies, educational institutions and nonprofits are boosting their presence in online worlds, the committee said.

Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has personal experience with avatars. When he couldn't address a climate change meeting in Bali in person, he did so via a computer likeness, though not a particularly good one if the pictures are any indication.