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Privacy Versus Safety: The thorny problem of policing the metaverse 

Ajman Police in Dubai become the first to ‘provide its services’ in the metaverse

Dubai recently saw the return of its annual computer expo GITEX, where technology innovations and projects that are shaping the Middle East were presented. The UAE has been an enthusiastic host to all things Web3 and during the GITEX event, Dubai’s Ajman Police General Command unveiled a new innovative service called “Request for Sponsorship” that takes their level of service to the public to the next level.

The UAE has been searching for ways to embrace technology to further pursue the pursuit of perfection and now – via the official Twitter of the Ajman police – they have announced they will ‘provide their services’ through metaverse technology, being the world’s first police department to attempt this.

Dubai Police director of artificial intelligence Major General Khalid Nasser Al Razooqi, has stated that a smart device will be used for the project, which stores an individual’s information and transactions with a personal dashboard that tracks user data and includes past traffic infractions and crimes.

This development aligns itself with the goals for the UAE to become a global hub for the metaverse and attain its vision of an all-digital economy.

Policing the future metaverse 

These types of developments trigger conversations about the future, such as how we interact online and in turn how users act within the world of the metaverse. Just as we have laws in the real world, when do we need to begin implementing them across wider digital spaces?

While it may be nice to assume everyone in our metaverse spaces are ‘good’, the probability of that is next to zero. For years we have already witnessed antisocial behaviour in online chat rooms and gaming so it is only natural to expect some of this behaviour will be present as we expand further into virtual worlds.

In recent years Cyberbullying has become a huge talking point, with many countries not deeming it as an actual offence but instead having it fall under the umbrella of other criminal offences such as harassment. 

However, we are already seeing the next level of escalation as people report various instances of racism, sexual harassment, and false impersonation within metaverse worlds. As these spaces are becoming increasingly popular, especially with the younger generation it does present the question of how do we monitor and police the actions taken by people within a virtual world, and when do the two realities begin to merge.

And while it may be tempting to take the path pursued by the UAE police department, issues of privacy may not see such measures being green lit with the same enthusiasm elsewhere.

Written By

Paige Cook is a writer with a multi-media background. She has experience covering video games and technology and also has freelance experience in video editing, graphic design, and photography. Paige is a massive fan of the movie industry and loves a good TV show, if she is not watching something interesting then she's probably playing video games or buried in a good book. Her latest addiction is virtual photography and currently spends far too much time taking pretty pictures in games rather than actually finishing them.

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