The internet is a combination of computer networks and electronic devices (e.g., smartphones, laptops) that can communicate with each other on various platforms. The internet has allowed people to immerse themselves in a world where they can create profiles on social media websites and freely interact with each other. It is certainly an intriguing phenomenon and an interesting part of today’s technological advancements. However, at this stage, technology companies are working on a different project called the “metaverse” which would combine the internet with augmented and virtual realities where the users can interact with each other as avatars.
What is metaverse?
It is made up of the prefix “meta” which means above or beyond and the stem “verse” which is a back-formation from “universe.” It’s generally used to describe the concept of a future iteration of the internet, made up of persistent, shared, three-dimensional virtual spaces linked into a perceived virtual universe. It may not only refer to virtual worlds, but the internet as a whole, including the entire spectrum of augmented and virtual realities. It refers to an immersive digital environment where people interact as avatars. Its concept encompasses an extensive online world transcending individual tech platforms, where people exist in immersive and shared virtual spaces
What are the legal issues?
There can be many legal issues associated with the metaverse such as fraudulent or deceitful transactions between the culprits and their victims. Fraud means an intentional misrepresentation, deceit, or concealment of a material fact known to defendant with the intention of depriving the victim of property or legal rights or otherwise causing injury. So, for example, the culprits can pretend to be someone else to lure their victims into sharing financial information. They can lure the victims into transferring funds without shipping the products or providing the requested services. The culprits can extract confidential information from their victims in an effort to use that information without authorization – e.g., identity theft, financial fraud. There is a potential of engaging in activities that constitute harassment or defamation. In other words, the culprit can engage in a series of acts to annoy, intimidate, or threaten the victim for no legitimate purpose. In California, civil harassment is actionable under Code of Civil Procedure 527.6. Or, the culprit can defame the victim by publishing false factual statements that damage the victim’s reputation in the community.
The culprits can engage in criminal activities such as assault, extortion, or similar violations that could be legally actionable. The state and federal courts will be busy when metaverse is implemented in the future. Moreover, the state and federal legislators must introduce and promulgate new bills to address the legal issues. These laws should be uniform across the board to avoid unnecessary delay, confusion, or litigation. Therefore, as we have addressed similar new topics in the past (e.g., quantum computers, internet of things, artificial intelligence, smart dust), this new and emerging technology will have its own challenges.
Our internet and technology lawyers have been prosecuting and defending legal actions in state and federal courts and are available to speak with their clients. Our law firm assists clients in matters related to privacy and cybersecurity and the applicable state, federal, and international laws. Please contact our law firm to speak with an internet attorney at your earliest convenience.