Policing in the Metaverse
On 21 October 2021, the Europol Innovation Lab published a report providing a detailed overview of the potential for criminal activities within the metaverse. Metaverse is described as as a virtual-reality platform in which people can explore things together or socially interact with each other without being in the same physical space. It is widely considered as the eventual successor to the internet. Europol's report aims to inform police forces of the opportunities and best practices for building police presence online.
Under the title "Policing in the metaverse: what law enforcement needs to know", the report explains the notion of metaverse, its adverse use, crime in the metaverse as well as law enforcement use of the metaverse and related technology. It takes a detailed look at several crimes such as money laundering, harassment, abuse and exploitation, and terrorism as well as the phenomenon of mis- and disinformation. It also deals with their impact in the physical world. Furthermore, the report gives advice on how law enforcement authorities can enter into online policing.
In its conclusions, the report underlines the need for law enforcement to establish its presence online and to use the available technology. Staying abreast of these challenges involves cultivating an organisational awareness of the corresponding challenges and opportunities. Furthermore, there is a need to establish international networks of law enforcement experts on the subject in order for them to exchange experiences and to build a knowledge base more quickly and efficiently.