EU Metaverse Policy Should Consider Discrimination, Safety, Data Controls: Commission Official

The European Commission plans to set out policy on virtual worlds in May.

AccessTimeIconFeb 24, 2023 at 3:30 p.m. UTC
Updated Feb 24, 2023 at 6:48 p.m. UTC

The European Union needs to consider issues such as nondiscrimination, user safety and data privacy when considering how to regulate the metaverse, a senior European Commission official said Friday.

The bloc wants to avoid mistakes it says were made with internet policy in the past, as the EU’s executive arm prepares to set out its strategy on virtual worlds in a policy document due in May.

“We want to make sure that the developments that we see in virtual worlds are fully in line with our European values from the outset – values such as inclusion, respect of privacy, non-discrimination and equality,” Yvo Volman, director of data at the European Commission's digital department, DG Connect, said at an event hosted by the Commission in Brussels.

“We have to make sure that people feel safe in virtual worlds, as safe as they do in the real world or actually perhaps even safer,” he said. “We need to make sure that people have the right skills and tools to protect their assets in virtual worlds – their data.”

“We need to get it right from the start,” said Volman. “We need to avoid some mistakes that we perhaps have made with the advent of the internet.”

The EU has lately set out sweeping regulations to control the ability of big companies like Google and Amazon to dominate the online space.

Officials from the commission’s powerful antitrust department have already expressed concerns that similar things could occur in Web3 – such as from social media network company Facebook, which has rebranded itself as Meta Platforms as it seeks to create its own online virtual-reality space.

Volman cited potential benefits from the metaverse such as online surgery or education, but “we also have to tackle the downsides,” he said.

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Jack Schickler

Jack Schickler was a CoinDesk reporter focused on crypto regulations, based in Brussels, Belgium. He doesn’t own any crypto.