Will Interpol be the new sheriff of the metaverse? One thing is for sure: she doesn’t want to fall behind.
The global policing organization has just unveiled what it calls “the first-ever metaverse purpose-built for law enforcement worldwide.”
It says the move will help police forces around the world “interact with other officers through their avatars” and even complete “immersive training in forensic investigation and other law enforcement skills.”
“The Metaverse has the potential to transform every aspect of our daily lives with tremendous implications for law enforcement,” said Madan Oberoi, Interpol’s executive director of technology and innovation, in a statement.
“But for the police to understand the metaverse, we have to experience it.”
The Metaverse was heralded as the next version of the internet, where we would interact in cyberspace through avatars wearing augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) headsets.
Last year, Facebook’s parent company Meta unveiled ambitious plans to invest heavily in the metaverse with a new immersive platform called Horizon Worlds. But it quickly confronted accusations Harassment and criticism of lack of moderation.
Interpol, which connects police forces in 195 countries, says it is now establishing an expert group on the Metaverse to ensure “this new virtual world is inherently safe”.
Harmful behavior in the virtual world poses a particular legal challenge “because not all acts criminalized in the physical world are considered crimes when committed in the virtual world,” the organization added.
Rise in cybercrime
As Metaverse users grow, more potential crimes will emerge, Interpol said, citing “crimes against children, data theft, money laundering, financial fraud, counterfeiting, ransomware, phishing, and sexual assault and harassment.”
Cybercrime, from ransomware to online child sexual exploitation and abuse, is expected to increase in the coming years, according to the latest Global Crime Trend Report.
“As cross-border crimes and criminal networks evolve at an unprecedented rate, law enforcement often has to catch up with tools, processes and procedures that may be outdated or inefficient,” it said.
By diving into the metaverse, Interpol hopes to reverse the trend.
“It’s only by having these talks now that we can build an effective response,” Oberoi said.