Technology is advancing at an exponential pace in geometric progression. Within a short period, we have seen a transformation of two-dimensional Web 2.0 to Web 3.0, bringing virtual reality to life through the metaverse. Metaverse is next on the internet, which utilises the open-source technical layer for building proprietary augmented spaces for individuals to experience virtual reality.
As technology advances, we need to analyse the regulatory landscape to protect consumer interest and make it safe.
While we are still grappling with concerns about internet safety, the emergence of the metaverse might exacerbate digital safety and conduct concerns. Some of the critical security and safety concerns on metaverse are sexual harassment, discrimination, hate crimes, identity theft etc. While we have some legal frameworks to tackle concerns like sexual harassment, identity theft, etc., it is unclear how they will apply to conduct and behaviour over metaverse.
Without a clear definition of personal, private, and public space within the metaverse, measures to tackle online harassment would remain more symbolic than substantive.
Moreover, understanding how individuals’ improper actions like cyberbullying, sexual harassment etc., in the metaverse would be scrutinised in the physical world remains vague. For instance, in the case of a groping incident, it is neither physical harm nor virtual harm; instead, it is a virtualized physical harm with real-world implications. While the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 defines sexual harassment beyond physical contact, it is still unclear how it will apply to virtual spaces like a metaverse.