What Is The "Metaverse"?
The term "metaverse" has caught headlines since Facebook announced the change of
its legal corporate name to "Meta" in October 2021[i] and is still a very hot
topic in the field of technology, some people going as far as to call it a next
revolution or next "big thing" in the Internet. So, what is the metaverse?
short, the metaverse is a collective virtual shared space that enables users to
interact with one another through immersive and interactive virtual experiences.
[ii]The concept of the metaverse has been around for decades, but it has gained
significant attention recently due to advancements in technology and the growing
demand for virtual experiences, which was later popularised by Facebook by
changing its name.
India is not immune to the legal and regulatory issues and challenges presented
by the rapidly growing metaverse. [iii]A metaverse is a virtual world where
people use devices like headsets to enter a virtual space to connect with others
in digital environments. [iv] India has a significant stake in the metaverse as
it is home to several large tech companies like Tencent, Alibaba, and Meta, all
of whom are investing heavily in the metaverse.
The Sandbox and Decentral are
the two largest metaverses in terms of transaction volumes in India, with the
former building a cultural hub in the metaverse and the latter hosting the
first-ever metaverse fashion week. The metaverse is expected to raise complex
legal and regulatory issues, such as data privacy concerns, cybersecurity,
intellectual property, and financial regulation.
These issues require careful
consideration, and regulatory authorities must be proactive in developing a
legal framework that can manage and regulate the metaverse. [v]As the metaverse
expands, it is important to ensure that it operates within a legal and
regulatory framework that protects the rights of users and stakeholders, while
also promoting innovation and growth.
Legal And Regulatory Issues And Challenges In India:
- The first challenge that India will face is the issue of virtual
property rights. As users interact in the metaverse, they may create and develop virtual
assets that have real-world value. For instance, virtual currencies such as
Bitcoin, which can be used in virtual worlds, have real-world value. India's
legal framework does not recognize virtual property rights, and it is unclear
how virtual property rights can be protected. To address this challenge, India
will need to develop a regulatory framework that recognizes virtual property
rights and establishes a mechanism for their protection.
- The second challenge is the issue of cybersecurity. As the metaverse evolves,
it is expected to attract malicious actors who may seek to exploit the system
for their gain. Cybersecurity breaches can lead to a loss of user data and
virtual assets, which can have significant real-world consequences. India will
need to develop a robust cybersecurity framework that can protect users from
cyber threats while also ensuring that the metaverse remains accessible and
- The third challenge is the issue of identity verification. In the metaverse,
users can create and assume virtual identities that may not be tied to their
real-world identities. This creates challenges for identity verification,
particularly in cases where virtual identities are used for malicious purposes.
India will need to develop an identity verification system that can accurately
identify users and their virtual identities to prevent fraudulent activities.
- The fourth challenge is the issue of taxation. As virtual assets gain
real-world value, they will be subject to taxation. However, the taxation of
virtual assets is a complex issue that requires careful consideration. India
will need to develop a taxation framework that can accurately value virtual
assets and ensure that taxes are paid appropriately. The final challenge is
the issue of content regulation.
The metaverse is a space where users can create and
share content freely. However, some content may be harmful, offensive, or even
illegal. India will need to develop content regulation policies that can protect
users from harmful content while also ensuring that the metaverse remains a
space for creative expression.
- Apart from these, there are some other challenges such as the issue of
jurisdiction. The metaverse is a global space, and users from different parts of
the world can interact with one another in a virtual environment. However, [vi] this
raises questions about which jurisdiction applies to different types of
transactions and activities that take place in the metaverse. For example, if a
user in India purchases a virtual property from a user in the United States,
which country's laws apply to that transaction? This is a complex issue that
requires international cooperation and collaboration to address.
- Moreover, India will need to consider the issue of accessibility in the metaverse. As the metaverse becomes more popular, it must remain accessible to
all users, including those with disabilities. India will need to ensure that
virtual environments are designed to be accessible and that users with
disabilities can fully participate in the metaverse.[vii]
India will also need to consider the issue of intellectual property rights too.
As users create and share content in the metaverse, they may infringe upon the
intellectual property rights of others. For example, a user may create a virtual
object that infringes upon someone else's trademark or copyright. India will
need to develop a regulatory framework that can protect the intellectual
property rights of content creators while also promoting innovation and
India faces several legal and regulatory issues related to the metaverse that
must be resolved for it to be used for social and economic development. These
challenges include issues related to virtual property rights, cybersecurity,
identity verification, taxation, content regulation, jurisdiction, intellectual
property rights, accessibility, and data privacy.
Addressing these challenges
will require collaboration and cooperation across different sectors, including
government, industry, and civil society. By addressing these challenges, India
can unlock the full potential of the metaverse and drive innovation and growth
in the digital economy. The legal implications of the Metaverse extend to land
law, data protection, tort law, and criminal law, as users may commit offenses
such as sexual harassment, molestation, or assault.
In India, there is an
absence of laws to regulate the Metaverse, which increases the vulnerability of
its users. We must act before this technology develops further, as India lacks
the legislative framework necessary to adequately control the Metaverse, which
makes its users more vulnerable. Since the Metaverse is still in its infancy, we
must take action now, before the technology matures, or else it will be
difficult to manage once there is a higher degree of user dependence
- What is Metaverse? - Everything you need to know (mygreatlearning.com)
- What is the Metaverse? How it Will Change the World (imaginated.com)
- What Is the Metaverse? The Digital World of the Future (beincrypto.com)
- What Is the Metaverse? (gate.io)
- Metaverse Explained: What is it, and what will happen? (moralis.io)
- Metaverse and Legal implications in India - Legal Articles -Free Law