Imagine a world where a prosecutor can walk a jury through a virtual-reality reconstruction of a crime scene in the metaverse.

Think about how effective first responders could become if they had trained in virtual environments similar to bomb scenes and natural disasters hundreds of times before encountering the real thing.

Picture a metaverse in which crimes and harmful actions are clearly defined and prosecuted from the outset, making it a much safer alternative to the internet as we know it today.

These are some of the scenarios outlined in the recent Interpol metaverse report. In it, the Metaverse Expert Group looked at ways the metaverse could be leveraged by law enforcement agencies as well as some of the potential ‘Meta Crimes’ that could occur in it and how to deal with them. In summary, it looks at the potential benefits, threats, and challenges of the metaverse.

What the Interpol report says about the metaverse

First, the report acknowledges that the metaverse is challenging to define. It attempts to call it “a three-dimensional online environment in which users represented by avatars interact with each other in virtual spaces decoupled from the real physical world.”

The report cites research firm Gartner in its estimation that 25% of people will spend at least an hour per day in the metaverse by 2025. Clearly, this isn’t something that’s coming a decade from now—it’s coming today—and law enforcement needs to be ready to both deal with the challenges and harness its potential.

As far as opportunities go, Interpol sees building partnerships and networking, global conferences, 3D immersive crime scenes, and the digitization of crime scenes as noteworthy. Challenges include technological and infrastructure requirements, data privacy and ethical concerns, legal and jurisdictional ambiguity, and cybersecurity threats. It also sees integration with artificial intelligence (AI) and expanded virtual operations as future possibilities.

The report also introduces the term ‘Meta Crime’ and highlights the need to define what constitutes crimes and harms in the metaverse. It provides a chart detailing the main ones.

Crimes in the Metaverse chart

The Interpol working group also looks at what law enforcement agencies must do to collect data and evidence related to crimes, including endpoint forensics, server investigations, and forensics related to blockchains, digital currencies, and NFTs. It also looks deeper at metaverse governance and how the law might apply in a global, multi-jurisdictional virtual world.

Blockchain technology can help Interpol and law enforcement

How the metaverse will end up looking is still to be decided: it could either end up in the control of technocrats like Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, or it could exist on an open, scalable public blockchain like BSV blockchain. In the latter case, no single party would have control.

Having a metaverse underpinned by a blockchain has many benefits, particularly for law enforcement. As well as being fueled by micropayments rather than invasive ads, each interaction, such as a server entry, file download, or interaction between avatars, would be time-stamped and logged on an immutable public ledger, which no single party can alter.

Wouldn’t this lead to a dystopia where privacy became a thing of the past? Not at all; as well as blockchain’s ability to enable true data integrity and sovereignty, there would be so many interactions and transactions that nobody would be able to tell what was related to anything else unless they had a starting point and both the technical tools and legal power to investigate. Needless to say, law enforcement would have both.

So, in a metaverse underpinned by a public, scalable blockchain, law enforcement could track and trace where stolen digital currencies or NFTs went, who accessed the wallets they were stored in, pinpoint server breaches, and more easily detect cyberattacks. Those using 3D avatars to trick, defraud, and abuse would do so knowing that should anyone decide to look into it, there’d be an immutable evidence trail leading back to them. Naturally, this would disincentivize such behavior.

With tools like Chainalysis, law enforcement around the world has already begun to understand how blockchain technology can aid it in tracking crimes by following a digital evidence trail. It can also do the same for metacrimes.

Watch: Metaverse, Blockchain & AI applications for governments, enterprises & brands

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New to blockchain? Check out CoinGeek’s Blockchain for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about blockchain technology.

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