Back

Law or ethics? The two ways to regulate the metaverse

Screen Shot 2022 09 21 at 08.57.50

History repeats itself. It happened with the internet. It happened again with social networks. And now again with the metaverse.

Every time a technological advance arises, a range of infinite possibilities opens up. But skepticism and social mistrust also appear. The fear of the potential dangers that they entail.

The same postulates applied to the internet and social networks are valid now. The metaverse is not good or bad in and of itself. It all depends on the use we make of it. And that use is directly linked to the ability we have to regulate its operation.

Regulation is necessary for users. But also for companies that are beginning to settle in this virtual universe. The risk for all of them is evident. Entering the metaverse without clear regulation can cause a crisis due to some mistake or carelessness.

In addition, any crisis usually generates loss of reputation. And, depending on the nature of the scandal, significant financial losses.

Two possible ways


Ethics and law represent the two main ways to regulate the metaverse and any other aspect of life. Sometimes they have been considered two sides of the same coin, but they present important differences.

On the one hand, ethics represents an a priori preventive approach. And it is promoted by the protagonists of the activity they want to regulate. They establish the criteria to define what are the best practices.

For its part, the law usually acts with a remedial approach, a posteriori, and in response to exactly the opposite. That is, trying to put an end to bad practices that have already occurred. In addition, the regulation comes from outside.

Ethics in business strategy


Ethics is also usually a more agile and faster mechanism than law. Therefore, it seems the best way to regulate the functioning of the metaverse. And to provide that peace of mind and confidence to users and companies.

However, information about the progress of the metaverse shows us that companies hardly consider ethics in their strategy. They talk about ethical and economic aspects, but never or almost never about the normative ones.

The existence of an ethical regulation seems necessary. It would help minimize the risks that stem from the nature of these virtual scenarios.

Ethical elements of the metaverse


There are three fundamental elements that must be taken into account when preparing it:

  • Governance: space and even decision-making capacity must be given to users.
  • Transparency: the information must be as clear and complete as possible to avoid mistrust.
  • Accountability: companies must continuously expose what their activity is.

Fundamental ethical principles
There is another recurring debate with each technological advance: do the classical ethical principles serve these new realities? The principles are valid, but they must be reformulated. Adapt them to the new context. But what would those principles be?

  • Responsibility. By all those who promote the metaverse, professionals and users. All of them must be aware of the implications that their actions will have.
  • Data handling. Privacy must be properly managed. For example, that of biometric data.
  • Truthfulness and authenticity. Above all, when it comes to guaranteeing identity verification systems
  • Respect for autonomy and will. With special importance for the regulation of informed consent.

Children in the metaverse

Age control, regulation of access and identity to prevent adults from pretending to be children, and vice versa, is essential.

We are still on time. If everyone involved agrees, they can be achieved. Without waiting for governments or legal authorities to take the first step.

It is good that administrations are sensitive and enter into this issue. But ethics always provides that plus of confidence and tranquility.