There has been a great deal of internal turmoil over "Age Verification." Like most things from on high, it is being rammed through, for reasons which were not explained, out of interests that are not stated, and presented dishonestly. Where it leads, I don't know. I know as someone who is responsible for a land owning group, that it is not "voluntary." But what it means is not clear. Law enforcement, in SL, is spotty at best. If you grief newbs, rich people or Linden Labs, expect instant and harsh punishment. Everyone else, eh, wearing a victim tag.
Since age verification will be enforced the same way everything else is, it is not about "age verification," but instead about something else. What that something else is, is not clear. Many people have expressed the belief that this is about Aristotle and Integrity and government influence. I think it is simpler, this is zoning, and it is about large corporations being able to dictate the content of sims. If Disney buys so much as a kiosk in a sim, suddenly the entire sim is whatever Disney decides to complain about. And what the Mouse wants, the Mouse gets.
In short, this is a way of Linden Labs adding a new item to our term of service: "You may not tick off rich people and rich corporations at the risk of getting your traffic hosed down."
Because the reality is that for large numbers of businesses and areas, the way they get traffic is by paying newbies to camp, or to orgy. Without these people, no traffic.
So after asking around a great deal, it seems clear to me that we don't know what this will do, other than drive many people to islands, which is good for Linden Labs because they sell islands, and to drive many non paying players into a much smaller area of SL. Which will mean other things. Will age verify protect anyone? No, not one minor will be protected by it, because minors that are in harms way not when they see pictures they can get free of the internet, but when they are in areas that are not sexual and some nice adult strikes up a friendly conversation with them.
As with many things, I'm going to get cynical and say that this is about making it easier for Linden Labs to make money, and dump more of the costs of management of SL on to other people, while pretending something else. I'm against it because it is clearly that: dumping risk and work on small people like me, for a service which I am, directly or indirectly, paying for. But I am also fully aware that nothing can be done about it.
This is the sort of thing that happens in corrupt little banana republics, and Second Life is very much a corrupt little banana republic, minus the ability to export bananas.
But then, that is why we are here. The cost of having the ability to toss society's restrictive social conventions, and not have to worry about government because it is all in someone else's hands, means that ultimately, we have no civic rights, nor do we own anything, it is all rented from El Presidente and his goons.
That's just the way it is. If this were an open source democratic and participatory space, we'd be having other problems.