By Sanjay Sahay: While the world is still struggling to make sense of data and what it can do, and simultaneously finding mechanisms to resurrect data to the users, we still are a long way off. The criminality which comes out of it leads to crimes and consequences which are beyond the realm of imagination. The hacking US Presidential elections and might even be the results of Brexit getting influenced by it . These were not simple hacking exercises as understood, it was more an extremely complex interplay of data, using self-owned social media platform. What crimes does it fit into and what offences have they been registered for and what happened to those cases finally? The other aspect is vividly depicted in the documentary The Social Dilemma; who can be criminally prosecuted for facilitating addiction of the social media?
We are still struggling with the first age cyber crimes and seem to be making a lot of hue and cry out of it. Money becomes data in the process of datafication of everything. Money laundering to swindling, cheating and fraud, conveniently moved on the cyber world. The second generation of the internet moved away from information to data and content creation, with instant communication and based on this fact unassailable power to the IT behemoths. The current fastest selling crime is ransomware. Laws leave cyberspace unregulated and then struggle to catch up with it. Might be the law would take another decade to catch up with where we are digitally today. No one really knows how much time it would take, the worrying fact is that we are moving on to the third generation of the internet.
This is the Metaverse, a 2D digital world is getting transformed into a 3D virtual world. A whole virtual universe is being created and you will find the real world in its totality there, with the ease of navigating it with a VR head gear. Having allowed the first and second generation of the internet to run amok without regulation and controls; the struggle to bring sanity is still on. Not having learnt any lessons from it, we are getting into Metaverse with the same ignorance. Within 60 seconds of joining Meta’s (Facebook) metaverse platform Horizon Venues, London based Nina Jane Patel said of three-four avatars sexually harassed her. ”They essentially, but virtually, gang-raped my avatar and took photos as I tried to get away.” She recalled “My physiological and psychological response was as though it had happened in reality.”
You can understand the dangers thereof now. A different world where crime needs to be defined first. A parallel universe without law and regulation cannot be imagined. The sheer definition would change and so would that of crime. Virtual reality is designed so that the mind and body can’t differentiate virtual /digital experiences from the real world. Data has already become an asset, what about the Metaverse assets, inclusive of land? Sale, purchase, theft, swindling all would happen. We would be moving from a real world to a virtual world economy. The aim is at the colonisation of consciousness. What would be the nature of tracking in the Metaverse. He who controls the data rules the world, Metaverse, would be having every conceivable data on everybody, are we ready for that. We would not need an Edward Snowden then. There might be no cover for the surveilled. Law and ethics have to guide the nascent years of this universe.
ARE WE READY FOR METAVERSE CRIMINALITY?
The writer — Sanjay Sahay is Ex. IPS (ADGP), IT, Cyber Security & Emerging Technologies Expert, Management Guru, Pro Public Speaker & Writer, Bengaluru