The metaverse has been described as the future of the internet. While development is still in its early stages, established companies and startups are spending millions developing metaverse technologies. Although the world was different a few years ago, as we have seen with the common internet, new pieces of law have been developed to address the online world. Cyberattack or data breach has become common. Whatever the nature of the metaverse, the law will evolve in response.
This bulletin is the first in a two-part series considering the unique legal issues that the metaverse may raise. Here, we look at the litigation challenges posed by the metaverse, with a focus on personal privacy and product liability litigation. In our next bulletin, we’ll look at key regulatory considerations for companies thinking about launching into the metaverse.
WHAT IS THE METAVERSE?
The term “metaverse” is used in many different ways. Here, we use it as a 3D version of the site – an immersive digital world that parallels the physical world, which you interact with using a virtual reality headset. Imagine having a virtual digital life, where your avatar lives in a digital world and can interact with other people’s avatars in a single digital space. You may have real wealth in the metaverse. You can visit a store and buy virtual goods – or a virtual office where you can go to a virtual meeting with avatars of real colleagues.
In the best scenarios of the future, the metaverse will be completely connected. You and your valuables can move seamlessly from one digital location managed by one platform to another. Perhaps in the future the metaverse will be a series of “walled gardens”, where each central station is a closed system that is incompatible with the others.
RELIGION IN THE METAVERSE
If the metaverse grows as expected, it will involve the collection of an unprecedented amount of data about users. Platforms (as they currently exist) can collect data about what users shop in the metaverse, what they watch, and what they interact with. other uses. However, since the user accesses the metaverse through a headset, more data can be collected – for example, related to the user’s movements, physiological responses and brainwaves – to give platforms a deeper understanding of what their users are thinking. and activities.
Most of the privacy prosecutions related to the Internet in general jurisdictions focused on the crime of intrusion upon privacy, addressing the nature of snooping – where the alleged accused in the personal activities of the plaintiff in a manner that seriously injures the place. good man In addition to a data corruption scenario, other metaverse cases of intrusion can be considered separately. If real estate can be bought in the metaverse, for example, the plaintiff may be liable for snooping on the plaintiff’s virtual home. Or imagine a scenario where the accused has the head of the accuser and is therefore able to track their movements, conversations and thoughts. Given the sensitivity of the data that the metaverse can collect, the stakes will be high.
While private causes of action may be used in the metaverse, courts or legislatures may seek to create new causes of action. Could a metaverse user be liable for negligence in preventing a cyberattack that resulted in the compromise of user data? If a metaverse user violates another user’s privacy, can the site be held liable for failing to prevent the breach? Time will tell how the law evolves in response to these challenges.
The metaverse is expected to result in a large market for virtual and physical products available for purchase and use by consumers. Software, hardware, and accessories such as headsets and glasses are examples only. Accordingly, developers, manufacturers, licensors, vendors and others in the industry may be subject to metaverse-related product liability claims brought by metaverse participants and with users of these products.
Several types of product liability claims related to the metaverse may arise in the future. For example, product liability can arise from scenarios where people suffer personal injuries while being immersed in the virtual or augmented reality of the metaverse world. Additionally, property damage or property damage claims may arise where access to the metaverse or use of related devices results in an event that destroys property. Metaverse users may be sued by other users for their actions in the metaverse in relation to a person or avatar.
The metaverse, no matter how it develops, does not raise legal questions and problems. Above, we have summarized the litigation issues raised by the metaverse, with a focus on privacy and product liability litigation. In our next article on this topic, we will look at the most important regulatory considerations for companies that are thinking of starting in the metaverse.