What are your digital rights on the Metaverse?

The metaverse is a complicated concept for consumers and businesses alike. On the one hand, the successful development of the metaverse could have incredible benefits. It could break down walls between communities, improve collaboration and communication, and transform the way we interact.

On the other hand, the metaverse raises a new set of questions about how human and corporate rights can be upheld in a decentralized, ever-evolving space.

Since the United Nations introduced the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” more than 7 decades ago, the world has still not fully agreed on what rights people should be accorded.

While most of us agree on the most extreme “abuses” of human rights, such as slavery and economic exploitation, groups constantly argue about how people’s actions should be monitored and how much freedom we should have in different situations.

The metaverse will add even more complexity to upholding and defining human rights in a world where we are represented by our digital “identities” and avatars. Because of this, global groups have yet to define clear laws, regulations, or guidelines for living in the metaverse.

Defining human rights in the digital age

Human rights have long had a problematic relationship with the digital landscape. The fundamental fundamental rights we have as humans in the real world are not always upheld by the regulations and policies of the digital landscape.

For example, in the physical world, people from many countries around the world consider “freedom of speech” a human right. However, allowing people to say and do whatever they want online can lead to a variety of problems, from cyberbullying to digital abuse.

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As a result, many companies responsible for moderating the online communities prior to the Metaverse have begun violating “freedom of speech.” Social media companies like Facebook and Instagram consistently moderate what is said online to detect signs of hate and abuse. This simultaneously protects users from discrimination and harm online while preventing others from having access to their fundamental freedoms.

In order to “protect” users, companies in the digital world that are responsible for building apps and websites also need to collect data. The collection of excessive amounts of data has been problematic in the past as it has again violated our human right to privacy.

The Metaverse, as a “decentralized” Internet environment, has the potential to enhance certain rights and harm others. This creates a new set of challenges for regulators to consider.

The problem with digital rights in the metaverse

There are several issues with the standardization of digital rights in the metaverse as it exists today. The first thing to note is that any “metaverse” created is subject to the rules implemented by developers and creators of digital content. For example, in a VR environment, an avatar cannot walk, move, or speak to another user without first being allowed by a developer.

Depending on how the metaverse evolves, the level of autonomy humans have in that environment can differ drastically. The Metaverse is not an individual digital space, but a collection of widespread, decentralized experiences built by individuals and companies. Therefore, each “iteration” of the metaverse has the potential to have its own approach to human rights governance, autonomy, and consumer control.

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While the Metaverse is intended to be a Web 3.0 technology that puts some level of control back to consumers of content, that doesn’t mean there aren’t rules.

Any “metaverse” experience must define exactly how consumers act and what they can do in that particular digital environment. This can lead to many inconsistencies when it comes to digital rights.

Not to mention that the “decentralization” aspect of the Metaverse also leads to increased anonymity for people experimenting with the web. A higher level of anonymity in virtually any setting can often create new opportunities for faceless abuse and inappropriate behavior.

There have been reports from Metaverse users complaining about acts of sexual violence, hate speech, and graphic content. Since the Metaverse allows people to be “who they want to be” online, it is very difficult to monitor such actions effectively. In fact, many experts are concerned that the metaverse could pave the way for a new era of digital crime.

What will digital rights look like in the Metaverse?

Digital rights in the metaverse have yet to be fully established. To ensure everyone has an equal and positive experience in a digital landscape, we need to implement new layers of standardization based on a shared understanding of which rights should be protected in the digital environment and which are no longer appropriate.

Groups are already coming together to discuss the potential laws that need to be implemented within the digital rights protection metaverse. Currently, these conversations mainly revolve around concepts such as copyright law, intellectual property law, contract law and “tonal law”. However, there is still work to be done.

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We need to determine how anonymous individuals are actually allowed to be within the metaverse and when anonymity should not be allowed in order to protect the rights of others. Experts need to think about how much freedom people should have when it comes to sharing content and interacting with others online, and what steps should be taken to protect people of different ages and backgrounds in the metaverse.

On the surface, the Metaverse promises to be an environment of true digital freedom. One where we can be who we want, interact with communities around the world, and traverse the virtual world like never before. But this new world cannot be entirely without rules.

To protect digital rights and human rights alike, strategies to monitor the metaverse and protect the people within it must be implemented.