Should regulators be more vigilant than ever? – Observer

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Many science fiction books, comics, games, and movies are based on alternative digital worlds that are inseparable from the real world and the physical world. As can be seen from today’s technological advances, they never went beyond that, which is fiction.

In fact, given the limited technological advances in this area (at least those that are being made public), today’s virtual spaces bear more resemblance to video game scenarios than, in fact, to real life.

Today, people interact with websites / computer applications related to social networking platforms (such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter) or through cross-platform instant messaging and voice calling applications (such as Whatsapp or Telegram).

Thus, perhaps due to the frustration of expectations created by fiction, there is often a passing interest in products related to virtual realities (such as Second Life) or augmented (via Google Glass).


However, this time around, it looks like a different scenario.

Many investors and companies in the technology sector have expressed interest in developing a virtual world that is likely to be the next stage in the development of the Internet itself.

On October 28, 2021, in a post called the founder’s letter on his Facebook page, Marc Zuckerberg announced a change in his company name, specifically “Facebook, Inc.” “Meta Platforms, Inc.” As a result, the brand name changed from “Facebook” to “Meta”.

This marketing strategy, that is, this rebranding, in addition to diverting attention from the latest pressures from regulators (both in the US and the EU), is also focusing on the company’s new priority: creating a virtual reality. that is, a metaverse.

Facebook’s investment in the production and sales of virtual reality headphones called Oculus Quest is an example of this new priority.

Timothy D. Sweeney, Epic Games, Inc., which develops electronic games. the founder and CEO of the company (Fortnite is best known) also encouraged the creation of a metaverse, in light of rumors about Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement.

Online multiplayer electronic games, such as Fortnite, have been providing shared and interactive worlds for decades. Although they are not metabresals, there are some basic principles in common. There have been so many in recent years (especially in the last two years as a result of the application of the mandatory containment restrictive measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic) that Fortnite has expanded its product through concerts, branding events, among others throughout its digital world.

With regard to the restrictive measures of compulsory confinement, all indicate that they also contribute to the acceptance and increase of the interest and development of this phenomenon. The trivialization of teleworking, or even distance learning classes, the conditions for network interaction are becoming increasingly valued.

But not only that. Just think of the types of events that were conducted through COVID-19 pandemic video conferencing software, from a variety of remote participants, regardless of their geographical location. Birthday parties, fitness or other sports classes, weddings and even courts.

As a matter of fact, the implementation of 5G mobile and broadband networks (which reduces latency), as well as the debate about replacing conventional physical currency with a legal price for a digital currency (which facilitates virtual business), seems to help further the development of this phenomenon.

The concept of metaverse has thus become a buzzword in the business and technology sectors. But ultimately, what exactly does this concept mean, and also what are, more than ever, the legal issues that should attract the attention of regulators?

As for the first question, it seems that we are dealing with a broad concept. It is generally made up of a set of virtual and shared spaces or spaces (called completely digital / virtual worlds / environments) where users, represented by 3D avatars, can access and interact through their headphones (and other possible accessories). Internet access. These spaces consist of the use of virtual reality (VR) and / or Augmented Reality (AR).

Unlike today’s virtual reality technology, which is mostly used for electronic games, the desired technology can be used to simulate almost any situation related to the physical world, from professional activities, virtual concerts, online movies or even. enjoy some time with friends.

The goal is to eliminate the boundaries between the physical world and virtual reality so that users can interact with virtual objects through the physical world and vice versa so that they can process any information in real time.

With regard to real-time information, it should be noted that the use of blockchain technology can also be used in metabersion, as users can buy and sell non-fungible cryptocurrencies (usually called digital or virtual assets, such as non-fungible cryptocurrencies). -fungible-tokens – NFTs) through fungible assets (commonly called cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, which serve as payment methods), which can be done, for example, through virtual digital art galleries (which offer NFTs). dubbed digital collection), available through headphones and accessories.

In the context of blockchain-based virtual worlds, with a virtual economy, cryptocurrencies issued through blockchain technology not only enable digital representations of fungible financial products (such as monetary values ​​or even corporate stocks) but also digital. Represent non-fungible financial products (NFTs) that are hard assets, that is, tangible and physical assets (such as real estate or even furniture, such as a car or a painting), soft assets, that is, intangible or digital assets computer applications, digital arts – digital collections, or even virtual real estate). The possibilities are almost endless.

In short, with the implementation of a metaverse, new online spaces are created (which will be increasingly valued and sought after over time), in which users interact in a multidimensional interaction, that is, instead of simply seeing the content. they can be immersed in digital content through their corresponding digital representations.

This brings us to the second question, which are the legal issues that should attract the attention of regulators more than ever in view of the above. In this case, among many others, there are questions related to different branches of law and various sectors of activity, such as intellectual property, data protection and NFTs.

First, imagine that within a given virtual reality, in a given virtual space, two or more content creators, or even single users, are collaborating and helping to create one digital asset or even another digital asset within a digital space. space. Who is the intellectual (or virtual?) Owner of these assets or space, and under what conditions? Is your copyright protected? Also, is it possible to create, protect, and advertise brands in the virtual world? What are the mechanisms that content creators / users can use to protect their brand in the virtual world?

On the other hand, since people will tend to spend most of their life (awake or asleep), in the metaverse, who will own the data resulting from their activity?

Who will guarantee the protection of people’s identity and privacy?

What happens if our information or identity is misused?

Who is responsible and under what conditions?

So far, we have only been able to see the creation and issuance of certain cryptocurrencies related to specific and specific sectors of activity.

Imagine, in the short term, the creation of a kind of parallel virtual society, with the creation and issuance of cryptographic assets that virtually represent possible and existing objects, cities, regions, countries, or entire worlds. and all online. In the context of this virtual world, who has the virtual legal capacity? That is, who can buy and sell? Are payment methods cryptocurrencies? Are there any financial instruments? Who regulates this virtual world?

These are, among other things, the questions that are being asked and, for the time being, left unanswered or with decisive answers.

Of course, regulators need to monitor the evolution of new technologies in order to safeguard and ensure the safety of people’s lives and the legal trade itself.

This follow-up is primarily (or should be) an attempt to conceptualize and understand the functional and transformative potential of issues and legal implications of these new technologies.

In this sense, some argue that the metaverse should simply be placed within existing legal frameworks. But there are also those who say that a legal system should be created to regulate the metaverse.

All indications are, however, that regulators want to maintain a similar stance on blockchain technology and the rise of Bitcoin’s popularity, which they initially seek to conceptualize and understand.

It remains to be seen how long he will hold on to that position. Probably until the day the press publishes a “tragedy” related to the metaverse, which arouses the attention of the general public and, with it, a kind of political reaction. Or will someone, through their activity, cause that reaction?

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