Explained: Why Interpol is policing the metaverse
Interpol, the world’s largest international police organization, has established a presence in the metaverse in anticipation of exponentially growing crime.
On Thursday, the group unveiled virtual reality training for law enforcement personnel working inside the metaverse at its 90th Interpol General Assembly session in New Delhi, India. Interpol directly employs over 1,000 workers who operate a secure communications channel for cross-border coordination of millions of law enforcement officers working in 195 countries.
For now, Interpol’s metaverse property is a simple reproduction of its General Secretariat headquarters in France. Assembly delegates in New Delhi had the chance to explore the virtual grounds with VR headsets, while registered users can also have a look.
Interpol’s Secure Cloud provides storage for its metaverse to ensure neutrality. Users can interact with one another with their avatars and participate in virtual training on topics like forensic investigations.
Interpol expresses concern about criminals within the metaverse
Interpol’s Global Crime Trend report listed money laundering, ransomware, phishing, and online scams as serious threats ⏤ according to the opinion of 60% of respondents. It says crimes are increasingly moving online, including avatar-based social settings.
With the growth in metaverse usage, Interpol expects online crime to increase proportionately. It is currently collaborating with the World Economic Forum (WEF), Microsoft, and Facebook parent company Meta on an initiative to define and govern metaverse communities.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) launched its own metaverse initiative at its 2022 annual meeting in Davos. It will recommend frameworks for governing metaverse interactions. It will also propose methods for growing the social and economic value of virtual worlds.
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Previously, the WEF expressed concern about social engineering attacks, extremism, and misinformation spreading through metaverse social settings. Interpol added its concerns about potential crimes against children, financial crimes, cyberattacks, sexual assault, and harassment.
Interpol announced a new Expert Group to ensure the security of metaverse properties. It expressed interest in studying virtual reality and understanding its opportunities and risks from a law enforcement perspective. Interpol will use the lessons its officers learn to improve its ability to enforce law within the metaverse.
Metaverse has uses beyond gaming
Interpol highlighted a Gartner report saying that 25% of the world’s population could use virtual worlds daily for work, studying, shopping, and socializing by 2026. Further, Gartner estimated that 25% of e-commerce retailers would create at least a proof-of-concept in a metaverse by 2027.
In addition, Gartner also projected impressive growth in metaverse applications for virtual workspaces and entertainment events like sports games and concerts. Citi analysts predicted metaverse users could exceed 5 billion by 2030 and become a $13 trillion industry.
However, much needs to improve by 2026 to achieve those numbers — Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta has already spent over $15 billion building its metaverse, despite consistently underwhelming public reception.
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