Virtual reality games are demonstrating that art imitates life as complaints regarding inappropriate behaviour, particularly against female avatars, are being reported. With instances of virtual groping increasing, two Canadian lawyers are pushing for new laws surrounding conduct in virtual reality.
These lawyers argue that since avatars are an extension of a person, our laws should be updated so that both the avatars as well as our physical selves are protected by the same laws. Currently, the definition of assault hinges on whether individuals can actually be “touched” as understood in the traditional legal sense.
Some players of virtual reality games, including Horizon Worlds by Meta, notice the lack of social protocols and norms. The lack of repercussions for anti-social behaviour has resulted in these behaviours becoming common; even normalized. With the lack of consequences, the underlying message is that this behaviour is acceptable.
As the metaverse and other virtual worlds become widely used, legislation and the judicial system will need to have the relevant laws to address issues particular to simulated interaction. The Internet has been around for over 20 years, but unfortunately, the courts and lawmakers still cannot prevent nor prosecute many cases due to online anonymity and crimes that occur across jurisdictions. Advocates say that it is important that accountability does not fall even further behind when it comes to the metaverse.
First reported in biv.com