Quick answer - not right now. Launching a call for evidence this week, the European Commission is looking for input on its (proposed) vision for metaverses, or as it calls them - emerging virtual worlds. Titled 'An EU initiative on virtual worlds: a head start towards the next technological transition', the intention is that such virtual worlds will be based on respect for digital rights and EU laws, and be open, interoperable and innovative. Sounds good to me, although one of the problems highlighted is the fact that, as per Web 1.0 onwards, the virtual universe (and Web 4.0 in general) has developed in an unregulated manner, leading to a closed ecosystem with the prevalence of proprietary systems and gatekeepers.
... so, the answer is another exciting layer of regulatory oversight, with some more rules to follow?! Well, the Commission have stated that any proposed metaverse framework would be non-legislative, although as we all know, supervisory authorities often lean heavily on non-binding guidance when assessing compliance. The Commission recognises the (rather crowded) legislative rule book that already applies to metaverses - the GDPR, Digital Services Act, Digital Markets Act, the Net Neutrality Regulation and the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive - so is there space (or a necessity) for another book on the shelf? This will likely be determined by the breadth and depth of virtual world development over the next couple of years and whether new and existing legislation has any effect on so-called metaverse 'gatekeepers'. Over to you, DMA! I won't even begin to mention the data protection implications..
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