Interpol experiments with the metaverse to anticipate the crimes of tomorrow
How to solve a crime in the metaverse? Police officers from Interpol, the international criminal police organization, are beginning to venture into this area. Jurgen Stock, secretary general of the authority, spoke to the BBC the latest in-house experiments.
Don’t get overwhelmed
In an attempt to adapt to the evolution of cybercrime, the agency has developed its own virtual reality space. Users can hold meetings or follow training courses in a totally dematerialized way. The objective for the police is not to be overwhelmed by the rapid development of new technologies. “Criminals are sophisticated and professional and adapt very quickly to any new technological tool available to commit a crime. If we respond too late, it has an impact on trust in the tools we use, and therefore in the metaverse“, explains Jurgen Stock.
To anticipate crimes committed in this new virtual world, police are conducting experiments to identify the potential nature of virtual crimes and how they might be controlled. In December 2021, an English tester was (virtually) the victim of a (virtual) sexual assault in the metaverse. After appearing in the (virtual) world of Meta, Horizon Worlds, the avatar of the (virtual) victim was (virtually) attacked by four other (virtual) characters who were trying to (virtually) touch her. She had then (virtually) fled, before (really) unplugging her helmet.
Crimes”virtual” very real
A characterization of the facts of crime “virtual” which remains to be refined, however. “If you look at the definitions of these crimes in physical space, and you try to apply it in the metaverse, there is a difficulty. We don’t know if we can qualify them as crimes or not, but these threats are there, so these questions remain to be resolved”analyzes Dr. Madan Oberoi, Interpol’s executive director for technology and innovation.
Moreover, the very design of the metaverse, on servers spread across the four corners of the globe, could give law enforcement officials a hard time. “With the click of a mouse, the evidence is on another continent”, recalls the Secretary General. International”by nature“, Interpol thus seems to be the agency best able to respond to the new threats induced by virtual worlds.