On September 19th, the South Korean government’s official media regulatory body met with Meta’s Vice President of Product Policy and Strategy, Andy O’Connell, to discuss how to alter user protection in the Metaverse.
The Discussion of Safety in the Metaverse
According to local media reports, Vice Chairman of the Korea Communications Commission Ahn Hyoung-hwan proposed a collaboration with Meta to develop safety measures for nascent virtual reality platforms such as the metaverse.
Reports suggest that they also discussed algorithm transparency, and combating the spread of illicit information on digital networks.
Meta operates the Horizon Worlds’ metaverse, which is supported by virtual reality (VR) technology. The platform marks one of the first attempts from the “Big Tech” companies to develop the metaverse, and has so far been made available to users in North America and parts of Europe. For its part, South Korea is one of the first countries in the world to commit national resources to creating its own metaverse.
Rising Concerns About Assault in the Metaverse
As daily life moves increasingly towards digital spaces, questions around the safety of the metaverse are being raised by many. Furthering the necessity of such calls, there have been many recent allegations of users being sexually assaulted on the Horizon Worlds platform.
The reports drove Meta to implement a personal boundary system, which establishes a mandatory four-foot space limit between users’ avatars, with the exception of selected friends.
Concerns are also developing in South Korea about the potential of children being subjected to sexual harassment and assault in metaverse spaces. In response to these issues, South Korean authorities have formed a committee to investigate user protection in the metaverse, with particular emphasis on the issue of sexual harassment aimed at minors.
On the Flipside
- The South Korean government intends to jump-start the country’s metaverse industry by backing enterprises and creating jobs as part of its ‘Digital New Deal’—a program for investing in new technologies in the country’s economy.
- South Korea’s $177.1 million investment is one of the first made by a national government into the nascent industry, and represents a cautious first move into the Metaverse.
- Zepeto, South Korea’s native metaverse, built by subsidiary of internet giant Naver, Naver Z, claims to have 250 million global users, more than 70% of whom are teens.
Why You Should Care
According to legal experts, effective regulations for handling abuse in virtual and digital environments have yet to be developed. A significant issue faced by governments is that the internet’s global nature complicates matters of law enforcement. For this reason, collaboration between tech companies and national governments is essential for developing a safer metaverse for all.
Read more about South Korea’s work on legislation in the metaverse:
South Korea Is Preparing ‘Metaverse Industry Promotion Law’
More on big tech companies devling into the metaverse:
Big Tech Metaverses: Everything You Need To Know About Meta, Microsoft, Google, And Apple