This is what happens if you commit a murder in the metaverse. What are the limits of the virtual world?
The almost imminent arrival of the metaverse has put big legal questions on the table. And it is that, killing, stealing, raping, threatening… are serious actions if they are carried out against a physical person in the real world, but within the virtual ones it seems that the rules change. Up to what point?
With the rise of virtual worlds, whatever their form, one wonders to what extent crimes in the real world have their equivalent in the virtual. We continually listen and read about the great immersion that this type of virtual universe will generate in us.
But of course, it’s still a game. However, they are real personal (under the identity of an avatar), the one who is building their environment, economy or just have fun in these virtual societies. So, to what extent is something a crime or not? Should it be punished in the same way?
In the Penal Code, murder is detailed in article 139 and is punishable by between 15 and 25 years in prison, but it applies to the death of another person (in the real world). Of course, killing a person’s avatar is not punished in the same way.
However, it seems that they will not go unpunished, as other laws may apply. One of them would be the crime against moral integrity.
In the most extreme cases, in which the death of the avatar really affects the person, article 173 of the Penal Code applies, that regulates degrading treatment, workplace harassment, real estate harassment, unfair harassment and domestic violence and is punishable by a prison sentence of 6 months to 2 years.
This is not the only crime that could be applied: crime of discovery and disclosure of secrets as a violation of privacy. In this context, we can interpret an avatar is closely linked to the image of a person and that damaging that avatar also means damaging someone’s image.
Cyberbullying or Data Protection may also apply. The Penal Code has multiple typified crimes that can be used in case of attacks in the metaverse, such as article 183, which regulates harassment of minors.
“The avatar is a data that identifies us, regulated by the RGPD and its improper use could be prosecuted“, explains Borja Adsuara, Doctor of Law and expert in Digital Strategy. In this case, the AEPD could impose a fine.
Despite all this, the problem is that an action of this nature could not be considered as such through virtual reality, despite the fact that realism could produce an equivalent devastating effect (There are devices that allow you to feel the touch like Owo Game’s virtual reality jacket).
For this reason, previously the massive inclusion of people in these environments may be security is necessary to avoid this type of problem on the part of the platform in chargeleaving aside the Penal Code.