The Metaverse continues to grow globally. It is attracting a lot of interest for its discovery, augmented reality and revenue diversification opportunities for businesses. But not alone. Its use also raises concerns about security issues, lack of regulation and the exclusion of a category of people who do not have access to, among other things, an internet connection and digital skills.
(Cio Mag) – After Facebook announced its identity change to “Meta”, many companies have recently expressed interest in the Metaverse. But what can we learn from this universe? The Metaverse is a virtual, interconnected environment where social and economic elements reflect reality. The users simultaneously interact with each other “on immersive devices and technologies, while interacting with digital assets and goods”. This is explained by the very recent global multi-stakeholder initiative of the World Economic Forum in Davos, “Defining and building the metaverse”, which aims to share strategies around this technology.
Harassment and security risks, the flip side of the coin
Indeed, the Metaverse has several advantages. It facilitates the interaction between people. It improves the image of brands and presents itself as an opportunity to broaden the horizons of companies. According to a report by Bloomberg Intelligence, this new universe could weigh more than $800 billion by 2024. But behind these opportunities and benefits, several concerns fuel the debates.
For example, at the end of December 2021, the company Meta was seized on its first virtual platform Horizon Words by a user who was the victim of intimidation. And this case does not stand alone. Beyond Harassment lThe World Economic Forum (WEF), one of the most influential international institutions, expressed concern “about the security and anonymity of users of the Metaverse” at the World Forum in Davos, May 23-26.
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Also on the side of the States people wonder. For example, Omar Sultan Al Olama, State Minister for Artificial Intelligence of the United Arab Emirates, expressed his fear about the risk of murder on virtual platforms. “If I send a message on WhatsApp, it’s a text message, right? It can terrorize you, but to some extent it won’t create memories that make you suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). But if I come to the Metaverse , a realistic world […]that I’m killing you, and you see, that takes you to a certain extreme where you have to react aggressively because everyone agrees that some things are unacceptable,” he told CNBC.
Need for regulation
What to do in the event of increasing concerns? Philippe Nadeau, CEO of DigiHub Shawinigan (Quebec – Canada), confirms that cases of cyber-harassment are not new in the virtual world. Especially in the world of video games they have been around for a long time. “The concerns come from the scale they’ve taken with the arrival of the Metaverse,” the expert admits. As for the need to regulate this universe, this question remains complex for Mr. Nadeau. Two reasons explain his reluctance. First, “each state has its own rules for internet and data security,” he explains. Secondly: “each operator operates on the basis of its own guidelines and internal regulations”.
Despite the two difficulties, there is indeed a need to think about solutions. Philippe Nadeau states that on the one hand “each operator imposes specific rules” around this virtual world. On the other hand, that “every state defines a good regulatory policy” from the Metaverse. As an example, he cites China, which has created its own Metaverse, or the United Arab Emirates, which investigates how the perpetrators of crimes committed by their avatars in the Metaverse can be punished.
These strategies can limit slips in the Metaverse. The members of “Defining and building the metaverse” for their part argued for the establishment of an adequate governance framework for the Metaverse. The latter would mean harmonization “between regulation and innovation”, while preserving “user privacy and security”.
Facing fears, Meta’s product director, for his part, wanted to reassure, “There’s probably going to be something called a rating system,” so a parent or young person can get an idea of the rules in the environment they’re going in,” explains Chris Cox.