The metaverse will expose new categories of our personal data for processing.
The year 2022 is witnessing the birth of a new reality or you can also say virtual reality called “the metaverse”. It’s an immersive virtual world where people can work, play and, naturally, enter disputes with the help of avatars. Industries are going crazy over the concept, starting from Facebook (now Meta) to Gucci all big names are sold for the metaverse. As users resolve their differences a new legal system will emerge that we may come to call by an old name: meta law. With power in the virtual world concentrated in the hands of a few creators, we must take care that meta law, or the law of the metaverse, does not end up slanted in their favor.
Earlier this year, a young woman based in one of the country’s top metros sought legal recourse for what she termed as a “violation” of her avatar on the virtual reality platform. But criminal and judicial systems in India, and even the world over, are still not ready to handle the challenges thrown up by the Metaverse, according to lawyers being approached to handle such issues.
Gartner reports that 25% of people will spend an hour per day in the Metaverse by 2026 for work, shopping, education, and entertainment, while 30% of organizations will have products and services ready for the metaverse. Late last year, Facebook renamed itself Meta Platforms and said that it would invest US$10 billion in the business, given the huge potential it sees in the space. Several brands and individuals have started investing in buying land virtually and building their virtual worlds.
It’s the avatars that cause offenses and give rise to disputes in the Metaverse. Is it possible to identify which user carries civil liability or has actually committed an offense through the avatar? Establishing the identity of the offender is necessary because the law would take its recourse only against the human body — not the avatar. But how would an investigation agency trace the actual preparator? This predicament can be resolved only if the metaspace provider keeps track of every action of all avatars on its space – though it seems quite difficult now – and enables all users to gather information about the identity of the user who is controlling that avatar. But then this would raise privacy-related concerns.
Envision assuming a gathering of men were to encompass a lady in the city of your town, swarm around her, not permitting her to move away, and begin utilizing foul language to threaten and startle her, conveying intimidations of assault and attack. Surely that counts as sexual assault, right? Presently assuming the equivalent were done to a female person in the metaverse, is that wrongdoing? Shouldn’t it be? Who chooses? Do we have police watches in the metaverse now, to stop such a revolting way of behaving? Do we have metaverse prisons to rebuff hoodlums for illicit ways of behaving how intently do we believe it should impersonate reality?
There is an age-old saying that every coin has two sides. And, same is the case with metaverse too. While many talks about the positives and how transcending into a more connected and AR-oriented world would benefit us. There are a select few who dare to look on the flipside and act upon what they are witnessing by making attempts to draft certain regulations. This brings us to the topic of laws and how they are and will be defined in the metaverse.
Laws that set boundaries for the evolution of Metaverse tech
There are a lot of concerns regarding the technology of Metaverse and what kind of legal implications it will have. From the issue of the groping of a female avatar to the selling off assets in millions, Metaverse has thrown a plethora of challenges. At the same time, this is just the beginning of the revolution of the internet, and full implications of the technology of Metaverse will be realized only in 10-15 years. However, lawmakers will have to be active in ensuring that the technology of Metaverse is in sync with the norms of data protection. This calls for an early draft of the law for Metaverse so that technology also evolves with boundaries set by law.