- Interpol is investigating the increase of crimes in the metaverse, a virtual world platform.
- Crimes committed in the metaverse include financial fraud, money laundering, counterfeiting, data theft, and sexual assault.
- Interpol is facing challenges in defining and identifying metaverse crimes and is working to familiarize itself with the virtual world through its own metaverse platform.
The metaverse is rapidly growing and becoming a hub for criminal activity. The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) is now concerned about the rise of crimes in the metaverse and is taking steps to observe and control these crimes. The metaverse allows people to exist in a parallel digital world where they can meet, work, party, and play as digital avatars. As metaverse adoption grows, so does the potential for criminal activity.
Interpol launched its metaverse in October 2022 during its 90th General Assembly in New Delhi, India. Following the launch, Interpol noticed that notorious actors were targeting victims in the digital world, leading to large-scale anonymous transactions.
Crimes in the Metaverse
Criminals adapt to the latest technological trends and tools to commit crimes in the metaverse, just as in the physical world. Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock stressed the importance of promptly responding to these new crimes to avoid major catastrophes.
The metaverse is home to many crimes, including phishing, money laundering, sexual harassment, data theft, and counterfeiting. Interpol is challenged with identifying the frequency and scale of crimes that target metaverse users. The agency is now analyzing criminal behaviors in the digital ecosystems and taking appropriate measures to curb crimes in the future.
Challenges Faced by Interpol in Policing the Metaverse
One of Interpol’s biggest challenges is determining what constitutes a crime in the metaverse. Applying definitions of crimes in the physical world to the metaverse is a difficult task, and the agency must find a way to distinguish between what is a crime and what is not. Dr. Madan Oberoi, Interpol’s Executive Director of Technology and Innovation, says these issues are yet to be resolved, but the threats are real.
To police the metaverse, Interpol must have a presence on virtual world platforms and have contact with users. The agency has created its own virtual environment, accessible through secure servers, which allows police officers to familiarize themselves with the crimes that might occur in the metaverse. Interpol also announced the formation of a dedicated unit last year to fight crypto crimes.
Interpol’s Virtual Environment
Interpol’s virtual environment allows the agency to get a feel for the virtual world and understand the potential for criminal activity. As the number of metaverse users grows, the list of possible crimes will only expand, potentially including crimes against children, data theft, money laundering, financial fraud, counterfeiting, ransomware, phishing, and sexual assault and harassment.
Social media, gaming, advertising, and the automobile industries are expected to benefit from the boom in industrial metaverse adoption. A recent World Economic Forum blog also predicted that industry bodies are likelier to adopt the metaverse before individuals, raising the stakes for cyber criminals who could bag large amounts of funds from metaverse-friendly companies.
The metaverse is rapidly becoming a new frontier for crime, and Interpol must take the necessary steps to police this new world. The agency must stay ahead of the curve and keep up with the latest technological advancements and criminal activities. The metaverse presents unique challenges, but with the proper measures, Interpol can help ensure a safe and secure digital world for all users.