Interpol sets up shop in their own metaverse • The Register

Interpol this week revealed what it has called a metaverse for police around the world, while signaling that a lawless virtual universe will not be tolerated.

The Interpol metaverse is “fully operational” and available through the international police cloud service, it says. To us it seems like a shared virtual reality space that you plug into with a suitable VR headset. Once there, you can visit a virtual version of the organization’s headquarters in Lyon, France; interact with other cops’ avatars just like they can interact with yours; and take part in training courses, for example, learn all about forensic examinations.

The police have set up a 3D chat room. Well, at least it saves them a trip to France.

Scene from Interpol's Metaverse

What Interpol HQ looks like in its virtual form… Yes, brilliant. Source: Interpol

“The Metaverse has the potential to transform every aspect of our daily lives with tremendous implications for law enforcement,” said Madan Oberoi, Interpol’s executive director of technology and innovation, in a canned statement.

“For the police to understand the metaverse, we have to experience it.”

Rather implying that the cops are interested in patrolling or investigating the verse. In fact, the entire launch of the service is geared towards concerns that crimes are being organized and committed in virtual reality and the police want to be able to intervene and investigate as they would in the real world. Facebook’s Meta and other tech giants are trying to revive VR fashion with software and headsets to get people working, shopping, and watching ads in virtual Metaverse shared areas.

Ominously, Interpol said it had formed an “expert panel.” [to] representing the concerns of law enforcement on the global stage” and ensuring that VR-Land is “safe from the ground up”. It may be too late for that.

The trough’s virtual service was unveiled at the 90th Interpol General Assembly in New Delhi, India. From a video of the launch, you can be sure that however you define the Metaverse, it’s still a bunch of people sitting around in business casual attire, masked in headsets, and twiddling touch controllers.

Are you taking an avatar-led passenger screening course? Or bust a Nike NFT crime ring? We’ll never know, but the sense of justice is palpable.

While scammers have moved some phishing and other scams to these re-emerging virtual reality spaces, physical crimes, including sexual assault, are also taking place virtually in these digital worlds.

INTERPOL Secretary General Juergen Stock wears a VR headset at a session in India on the Metaverse of the Org

Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock puts on a VR headset at a meeting of his police organization in India

Not only Interpol has concerns: The World Economic Forum launched an initiative with Microsoft, Meta and others at its annual conference in Davos this year to govern the Metaverse.

As more people potentially use the Metaverse technology, international police expect crimes to ensue in these make-believe spaces. But what can be considered a crime in a virtual world? Hateful language? Planning terrorist attacks? Fraud? Some kind of phishing? Should murder in the metaverse have criminal consequences in the physical world? Some seem to think it should be.

“By identifying these risks early on, we can work with stakeholders to shape the necessary governance frameworks and cut off future criminal markets before they are fully formed,” Oberoi said. “It’s only by having these conversations now that we can build an effective response.”

In its announcement, Interpol touted the Metaverse’s “many benefits” for law enforcement, such as long-distance networking, training, and “collecting and preserving crime scene evidence.” It seems the international organization has already done a lot of this via video calls and the like.

But maybe putting on VR glasses is more fun and games. Or at least playfully. ® Interpol sets up shop in their own metaverse • The Register

Rick Schindler

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