A comprehensive analysis of the Metaverse’s key challenges, threats, and harms from a law enforcement perspective has been outlined in a new INTERPOL White Paper published recently.
Contributing towards a secure-by-design Metaverse, the document identifies current and potential Metacrimes, such as grooming, radicalization and cyber-physical attacks against critical infrastructure, as well as theft of 3D virtual/cultural property, trespassing in private virtual spaces, and robbery from an avatar.
A lack of standardization and interoperability; virtual worlds spanning multiple jurisdictions; and the added complexity of the Metaverse being accessed across multiple devices and systems: all are among the challenges currently faced by investigators.
Police may be faced with virtual crime scenes where there is no physical evidence to be collected – just digital interactions involving virtual assets such as cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Such online environments are dynamic, meaning evidence can easily vanish or appear altered.
Nevertheless, the INTERPOL paper also notes that the Metaverse holds opportunities for law enforcement, ranging from advanced simulation and virtual crime scene preservation, to immersive training.
New criminal opportunities
The Paper also underlines the need for first responders, digital forensic specialists and the judicial system to understand the Metaverse and associated technology to ensure the safety and security of the virtual environment and protect individual rights.
“We are seeing the Metaverse and artificial intelligence provide new opportunities for criminal activities, for which the world is not fully prepared.
“INTERPOL remains committed to being the voice of global law enforcement community to ensure the safety and security of the virtual world.”
A holistic approach
Spanning multiple jurisdictions, dimensions, and organizations, a holistic approach involving multi-stakeholder engagements and cross-border collaboration is essential for an effective law enforcement response to Metacrime.
INTERPOL’s ambition is to help its member countries understand both the challenges and opportunities offered by new and emerging technologies, as well as ensure law enforcement has the tools and training to mount an effective response to this evolving crime landscape.
Launched at the World Economic Forum’s Global Collaboration Village as part of the ‘Next-Generation Technologies and Global Security’ session, the Paper was developed with input from the INTERPOL Metaverse Expert Group made up of representatives from law enforcement, government, the private sector, academia and international organizations.
In October 2022, INTERPOL unveiled the first ever Metaverse specifically designed for law enforcement worldwide, offering immersive training courses to law enforcement across the globe.