Metaverse experts reveal if you can kill in the virtual world

Some legal experts say “murder” in metaverse is not a 25-life sentence – or even a felony – but it can be a felony.

The Sun spoke with two attorneys, who have written about crime in the Metaverse, and a former Manhattan attorney general turned law professor about violence in the virtual world and whether they can be prosecuted.

Two of the three experts said that violent crimes such as murder, rape or assault in the metaverse could be said to be speech-related charges such as threatening, stalking or stalking.

Experts say it is all about drafting the laws as they are currently written.

John Bandler, who teaches cybersecurity and cybercrime in New York City, said they wrote to protect “real, living people.” Elizabeth Hope School of Law, Pace University.

The law is not intended to protect the avatars or software code, which populate the metaverse.

“I will see it more as a speech or an expression; Bandler said.

“Then we can analyze whether or not that speech or expression is allowed or protected.”

This argument fuels the broader societal debate in the First Amendment about what is protected speech, what is unprotected, and what can be sued.

“Trolls, virtual bullying, threats and bad behavior all happen online all the time. This is nothing new and will happen in Metaverse,” said Greg Pryor, attorney at the law firm Reed Smith LLP.

“But if you say something racist or offend someone because of their race, religion or sexual orientation, you will likely be sued.”

An expert said crime laws protect the “real, living people,” not avatars, who inhabit the metaverse.
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A third expert – Patrick Roberts of the Roberts Lawyers Group – said it would be difficult to sue a normally anonymous user and prove that the user committed the act.

He said the consequences will likely be some kind of default punishment, such as disabling or restricting a user’s avatar.

“And the person who used the avatar for hypothetical violence could be restricted or banned for some time, perhaps,” the North Carolina attorney said.

This is all speculation and has implications for freedom of expression. After all, people kill each other in video games all the time without consequences. I can’t imagine the criminal consequences in the real world of a hypothetical crime. »

Undecided - March 25: A general view of the Etro fashion show during Metaverse Fashion Week on March 25, 2022 in Undecided and Undecided.  Metaverse MVFW Fashion Week is hosted by Virtual World Decentraland and is the first experimental virtual fashion week.
“I don’t think criminal laws should be changed to protect avatars as people,” says one expert.
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Will the avatar get a “personality”?

This question has divided experts who have spoken to The Sun throughout the past week.

Bandler, who has a long history and deep knowledge of cybercrime, said criminal law protections for avatars “couldn’t work.”

“I don’t think criminal laws should be changed to protect avatars as people. That wouldn’t make sense, and we have enough challenges to protect people,” Bandler said.

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A virtual reality headset is one of the means by which users can access the metaverse.
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“Online games mean that thousands (millions) of avatars are ‘injured’ or ‘killed’ every day. In fact, such actions are either ‘part of the game’ or at least allowed by the game.”

So far, very few crimes or threats of digital harassment are ever prosecuted online, according to Bandler.

“Every case is individual, but numerous threats are made and criminal repression is infrequent,” he said. “I can’t imagine that threats in the metaverse would be so well accepted with law enforcement.

Undecided - March 25: A general view of Metaverse Fashion Week on March 25, 2022 in Undecided and Undecided.  Metaverse MVFW Fashion Week is hosted by Virtual World Decentraland and is the first experimental virtual fashion week.
The metaverse has untapped potential and an unknown amount of crime.
Vittorio Zunino Cilotto/Getty Images

“You can try to report them to the FBI, but good luck. The main recourse is through the platform.

On the other hand, Pryor and Roberts said they can envision a future in which laws are changed or new laws are created to reflect potential violence on the other side.

Could the law provide more protection for avatars because they look like our own? Can the law extend protection? Yes, I think it is. But that’s not the case now, Pryor said.

This story originally appeared on The Sun and is reproduced here with permission.

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