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Metaverse policing: How do we combat crime in a world without borders?

In online gaming, players can create avatars to be whoever they want. They can explore virtual worlds and take on different identities at will. But as these virtual worlds become more popular, the question of how to police them becomes more pressing.

Crimes in the Metaverse

The Metaverse is a vast and ever-expanding virtual world where people can interact with each other and explore virtual environments. As the Metaverse grows, so does the potential for criminal activity.

  • By 2026, 25% of people might spend at least an hour a day in the Metaverse, according to Gartner.
  • Children may be exposed to crimes, such as virtual asset theft or sexual and racist harassment.
  • Because of the Metaverse’s nature, regulatory attention and a multi-stakeholder approach are necessary as technology progresses.

According to a report by Elliptic, crypto asset thefts make up 99.5% of illicit activities in the Metaverse. Similarly, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are also plagued by social engineering, fake giveaways, and MetaMask browser wallet attacks. 

Additionally, there have been phishing attempts in Decentraland where hackers siphoned off funds from users’ MetaMask wallets after they clicked on a suspicious link.

Sexual and racial harassment issues exist on all digital and virtual reality gaming platforms. Because VR is immersive, it may be detrimental to a victim’s psychological well-being. Children are especially vulnerable since they are more likely than adults to explore the Metaverse, perhaps exposing them to sexual content without their caregivers’ awareness.

One of the biggest challenges in fighting crime in the Metaverse is the lack of borders. Because the Metaverse is a global phenomenon, it can be difficult to track down perpetrators and bring them to justice.

The Elliptic report has also predicted that criminals are increasingly using Metaverse to launder assets.

Money laundering, however, is not restricted to the Metaverse. It is one of the most common crimes in the cryptocurrency industry, and it has increased by over 30% between 2020 and 2021, according to a 2022 crypto crime report by Blockchain data firm, Chainalysis.

DeFi Heists

According to Chainalysis, the amount stolen in crypto heists has increased by 60% in 2022.

As per estimates, hackers stole $1.9 billion from January to July this year, up from $1.2 billion the previous year.

Given the increased severity of crypto attacks this year, the upward trend is expected to continue. In July alone, $192 million was taken in a Nomad bridge theft, followed by another $200 million stolen from 8,000 hijacked Solana wallets later that week.

The best way to combat these crimes is to raise awareness and educate users about how to stay safe online. However, there are some steps that law enforcement and platform providers can also take to help make the Metaverse a safer place for everyone.

Policing the Metaverse

One way to combat crime in the Metaverse is through proactive policing. This involves using data and analytics to identify potential criminal activity and then taking action to prevent it from happening. For example, law enforcement could use data from virtual world transactions to look for patterns indicating money laundering or other illicit activity. They could also use data gathered from social media and other online platforms to track down cybercriminals.

To defend against money laundering, wash trading, and law-enforcements should examine sanctions threats, metaverse-related transactions, and wallets for criminal ties.

Another way to combat crime in the Metaverse is through educational campaigns that raise awareness of the risks of criminal activity and how to avoid it. These campaigns could target both users and businesses that operate in the Metaverse. For example, users could be taught the dangers of sharing personal information or engaging in risky behaviour. At the same time, businesses could be encouraged to implement security measures that would make it harder for criminals to target them.

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And finally, we can create our metaverse police force. This would be a dedicated team of experts who understand the intricacies of the Metaverse and can quickly respond to any crimes.

Ultimately, preventing crime in the Metaverse will require a combination of different approaches. Which approach is best? Probably a combination of all three. By using data and analytics, raising awareness, and working together, we can make the Metaverse a safer place for everyone. 

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