According to an EU internal document seen by EUobserver, the metaverse could become a new breeding ground for terrorism and recruitment.
The paper which is dated June 2 and drafted by the EU’s counter-terrorism coordinator says, “The creation of a virtual caliphate or Da’esh base camp is one of the risks linked with this new world.”
It states that the metaverse offers new ways to coordinate, plan and execute acts of terrorism. This includes staging or recreating immersive major terrorist attacks such as the 2015 Paris attacks on the national stadium, Bataclan concert venues and street cafes, which recorded 137 deaths.
The paper went on to state that the decentralised financing of crypto-currencies could also further assist terrorist organisations in operating their own metaverses.
Is the metaverse heading for a security crack down?
Europol, the EU’s police agency is currently looking into how it can crack down on potential crimes in the virtual world, says the paper.
In his ambition to create an interactive and immersive experience, high-profile metaverse endorsee Mark Zuckerberg of Meta, has touted that the metaverse will allow users to engage with 3D virtual surroundings using their avatars.
Though similarly Meta’s Nick Clegg has issued warnings as to the troubles ahead and the collaborative work that still needs to be done to make their plans safe.
“Although still under construction, the Metaverse holds the potential for violent extremists to exert influence in new ways through fear, threat and coercion,” says the 14-page paper.
The paper also states that the immersive experience may lead to higher level of vulnerability for those prone to messaging of terrorist recruitment cells, while dampening their emotions for greater manipulation. It also warns that the metaverse could be used to spread extremist ideology and could lead to the creation of the multiple metaverse versions or metaverse-like environments.
The paper says, “Extremist organisations could create Metaverse spaces where they freely spread disinformation and hate speech, and where rejection of democracy brings people together.”
It also includes other cryptic warnings, noting that terrorists could also stage attacks inside the Metaverse, including the mass killings of avatars or virtual beheadings. Noting that, “These attacks can have repercussions in real life.”
The paper then suggests a policy discussion in the Council representing member states. It says the council’s working party on terrorism (TWP) and the standing committing on operational cooperation as well as internal security (Cosi), should be included in those talks.
Lastly, it recommends looming into the existing legal framework for possible tweaks when it comes to the terrorist content online regulation, the digital services act, as well as the anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing legislation.