EU Commissioner Says Metaverse Regulations Must Protect Users

EU Commissioner Yvo Volman said today that metaverse regulations must prevent discrimination and protect user privacy.

Speaking at the DG Connect event in Brussels, Data Director Yvo Volman said that the bloc must consider issues of inclusion, equality, and user privacy protection in its upcoming legislation, slated for May 2023.

While acknowledging the potential for the metaverse in surgery and learning, he emphasized that people must be equipped with tools to protect themselves in these virtual spaces.

“We need to get it right from the start,” Volman said, as reported by Coindesk.

His words come even as the EU is set to embark on a metaverse rulemaking initiative. The move was first revealed by EU president Ursula von der Leyen in her 2022 State of the Union address.

In Jan. 2023, the agency published its annual agenda, appointing European Commissioner for Competition Margarethe Vestager to head up the metaverse initiative.

Before her appointment, Vestager noted metaverse regulation must address firms that dominate the segment.

“The metaverse will present new markets and a range of different businesses. There will be a marketplace where someone may have a dominant position,” Vestager told the politically-centric publication Politico in Jan. 2022.

Vestager also saw the EU’s Digital Markets Act come into force in November 2022. The legislation outlines the responsibilities of corporate “gatekeepers” dominating certain markets. Its laws will start to apply in May 2023 and come into full effect by the end of the year. She told The Verge in Mar. 2022 that enforcement would be a key focus of the Act.

Antitrust considerations are shaping up to be a significant component of regulations around Web 3. 

In July last year, the U.S.’s competition watchdog, the Federal Trade Commission, tried to block attempts by the social-media-turned-metaverse firm Meta to acquire Within Unlimited, a company specializing in virtual reality. The agency alleged Meta had its own successful fitness app and was trying to buy its way to the top. Meta won the litigation, but previous acquisitions designed to bolster its virtual reality app store have underscored the role of mergers and acquisitions in the metaverse industry.

Last year, the FTC sought to halt Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of gaming giant Activision Blizzard for fear that the former could eliminate competition to its Xbox ecosystem. In its initial acquisition filing, Microsoft regarded the firm’s acquisition as crucial to constructing its business-focused metaverse. 

To reassure regulators, Microsoft recently announced that it would partner with Nvidia to make Activision’s games available on Nvidia’s GeForce Now platform, which competes directly with Xbox Cloud.

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