According to Verdict, The European Commission (EC) is hosting its second public consultation on the 10th March to determine guidelines for a new EU metaverse policy – and experts believe cybersecurity should be at its forefront.
Research firm GlobalData shows that the metaverse raises several social concerns ranging from data privacy to other forms of online harm. Analysts at GlobalData believe that the EU metaverse policy and other regulators will focus on ensuring the safety of metaverses. However, the largest concern with virtual worlds, which are an extension of social media platforms, is that they will face the same challenges that such platforms now face, from data privacy issues, misinformation, and online harm to antitrust.
The “Citizens Panel on Virtual World” consists of 150 EU citizens who will be discussing the potential pitfalls and opportunities of the ever-expanding metaverse industry. The panel aims to create a set of guiding principles and actions for the further development of virtual worlds in the EU. “It will take the form of recommendations addressed to the EC to feed into an initiative on the topic,” an EU spokesperson said.
If the Metaverse really is on a path into the mainstream, regulation needs to be a priority. People are likely to overlook the dangers such as phishing, hacking and scam purchases in this virtual world much like the way people view much of the internet as a separate world altogether. However, the realities of the scams and crimes that can occur in the Metaverse are far nearer to the physical world than many may seem. Cybercriminals are masters of being able to captivate an audience and catch those off guard with what looks either tempting or of interest to unsuspecting victims. They also have the capabilities of taking advantage of vulnerabilities in the physical technology assigned to it such as any flaws found in headsets.
Metaverse also opens up a whole new level of social engineering as the users are now virtually “in” the social network, interacting in avatar form with other peers. Psychologically this overcomes the “classical border” of just interacting with text. This raises trust levels although it might be still the same ol’ crooks trying to lure you into doom. It would be of little surprise if romance scammers would take advantage of the metavers capabilities, too.
Regulation of the virtual world will require a lot of time and resources but at least we are seeing the authorities start the ball rolling before it is too late. Theft of sensitive information in virtual worlds can be even easier when placed in what feels like a digital world. However, data theft and the risk to privacy is very much a real world scenario that law makers will have to adapt to quickly if the Metaverse one day takes off.