The Metaverse was created in 1992 by Neal Stephenson and is based on blockchain technology, using digital assets called “smart contracts.” These smart contracts are stored on the blockchain and can be used in other virtual worlds and the real world. Metaverse is also a decentralized platform, meaning there is no central authority controlling the virtual world. Users are free to create their own digital assets and experiences in Metaverse.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Wednesday, Omar Sultan Al Olama said the realistic nature of any metaverse that does come to fruition could allow people to be terrorized in ways that aren’t currently possible. “If I send you a text on WhatsApp, it’s text right?” Al Olama said. “It might terrorize you but to a certain degree it will not create the memories that you will have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) from it.”
“But if I come into the metaverse and it’s a realistic world that we’re talking about in the future and I actually murder you, and you see it … it actually takes you to a certain extreme where you need to enforce aggressively across the world because everyone agrees that certain things are unacceptable,” he added.
Al Olama urged the International Telecommunication Union, the U.N.’s specialized agency for information and communication technologies, to have a conversation on setting international safety standards for the metaverse that people must adhere to regardless of where they live. For instance, there are common standards on the internet that prevent things like drug trafficking and child pornography.
There are currently no laws specifically regulating Metaverse or other virtual worlds. However, the same general laws that apply to the internet also apply to Metaverse, including copyright law, defamation law, contract law, and more. The biggest question is that of damages. If this is a virtual world, then logic would say they are virtual crimes, thus virtual damages?
The other big question is that of jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is the authority of a Court to hear a case. Who has legal “authority” to hear a case in a virtual world? Maybe we just need a virtual Court with a virtual jail for everyone’s virtual reality Avatar. Yes, this is a real legal discussion regarding a virtual reality.