IGF 2022 WS #364 Misty Metaverse: Blurring Letter of the Law

Wednesday, 30th November, 2022 (10:45 UTC) - Wednesday, 30th November, 2022 (11:45 UTC)

Organizer 1: Private Sector, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Organizer 2: Civil Society, Eastern European Group
Organizer 3: Intergovernmental Organization, African Group
Organizer 4: Civil Society, Eastern European Group

Speaker 1: J Amado Espinosa L, Private Sector, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 2: Yudina Alena, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Milos Jovanovic, Private Sector, Eastern European Group
Speaker 4: Mary Lou Rissa Cunanan, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 5: Kura Tegegn, Government, African Group


Birds of a Feather - Auditorium - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

Some people consider the metaverse to be the first step towards the digital state as well as the corresponding “citizenship” and “laws” and, as a product of Web 3.0-5.0, the metaverse will, in fact, lessen the role of the state. The reason for this is basically that decentralized systems operate in accordance with their internal logic, which is actually the only and final “jurisdiction” for transactions conducted through the system. That means that IT giants and corporations are establishing rules inside the metaverses and governments have very limited power inside virtual worlds due to the absolute absence of some kind of regulation of metaverses. Which leads us to the logical question: in which jurisdiction do these metaverses operate? And how to ensure that rights of the users of DLT-based solutions are protected? Therefore, it is needed to create a unified basic regulatory and legal framework for metaverses to protect users that will apply to every metaverse wherever it may be located. The main argument for this is that the rules of metaverses created by the private sector may initially not comply with local legal systems in those countries where users are / will be located, and may begin to contradict them. The absence of a physical real world entity responsible in such a system for the virtual reality environment, makes it difficult or impossible to enforce the law. The widespread use of decentralized applications in any area of ​​society within a country actually takes the area out of state legislation. The financial aspect of metaverse is no less important. NFTs and other DLT-based solutions are now becoming the source of income for many people, especially if we talk about such things as ‘play-to-earn’ and other similar schemes. The example of the Philippines shows that this could become the substitute for an actual work but also can easily be turned into fraudulent activity. What kind of problems does this model of income create and what kind of risks does it possess? Cryptocurrencies used to pay transactions in metaverses are also still not regulated by most of the governments in the world. So, this revenue remains in the ‘dark side of the web’, it is not taxed, nor is it considered sometimes to be real money and sometimes it turns out to be a speculation. But will earning money at the metaverse help to solve inequalities of income? Is it an option for least developed countries and Global South to reduce poverty or do the IT giants use the naivety of users to make millions in profits? What kind of regulation for cryptocurrencies and labour market in the metaverses should be established, so that users would be protected? The other question that pops out is how to combat cyber threats in ‘metaverse’. It will likely exacerbate the problem of identity theft, avatars, schemes, frauds and blackmail. But how to avoid this if metaverses are based on DLT and controlled by IT corporations with their own rules and terms and conditions? How to protect the privacy and data of ordinary users? As for now metaverse looks like a paradise for cybercriminals and the ideal breeding ground for the rise of almighty tech and financial companies. If they become the ones in charge, making laws that benefit only themselves, there will be no one to limit their activity. Metaverses present the opportunity for disabled people as VR-technology can help, for example, with medical treatment or create a space where everyone can be equal. But the question arises as how to make this virtual space inclusive for all people as VR-tools are not always designed for people with disabilities? Metaverses could also be useful for education purposes and create digital copies of the world's top universities with free access for all the people to attend lectures. What are the challenges and how to face them together, with the help of cross-border cooperation?

Connection with previous Messages: Katowice Messages touched upon such a thing as “agile regulatory frameworks – at the national, regional and, where possible, global levels – need to be put in place to outline rules, responsibilities and boundaries for how public and private actors behave in the digital space”. This is basically what is needed with regulation of DLT-based solutions. Also, the whole section “emerging regulation” describes the basic rules of how every global regulatory framework should be created with a special focus on “underlying principles to guide policy approaches”. Nevertheless, it is important to mention the last point about video games because games indeed incorporated “cutting-edge technologies”, namely VR/AR-systems that are used to enter metaverses as well. This workshop continues the debate on emerging regulations that are needed to be implemented as soon as possible. Though it wasn’t in the Katowice Messages but in the outputs of the Youth IGF Summit 2021, the need of regulation of DLT was heavily touched. It means that this topic is one of the concerns of the young generation who will shape the future of the Internet.



Targets: Creating a fair and just regulatory framework for DLT-based technologies is rather impossible without full engagement of the civil, private, technical and governmental sectors in dialogue (17.17). At the same time, it is important to share knowledge on advanced technologies with the countries of the Global South, especially if DLT-based solutions could change the life of the population of these countries for the better (17.6, 17.7). We should not forget that DLT include cryptocurrencies, and their implementation requires improving the regulation of global financial markets (10.5) as well as adopting new policies that can protect the users who make revenues with the use of this technology and receive it in cryptocurrencies (10.4, 8.10). We can’t do that without taking into account the experience of the developing countries where cryptocurrencies are quite popular and possibly can be a way out of poverty (10.6, 10.b). Metaverses are able to widen inequality even more, that is why with the help of fair regulatory framework it is important to prevent that. But the triumph of the rule of law requires creation and maintenance of transparent institutes on all levels of Internet governance (16.6), especially when dealing with such emerging technology as this one.


Technological solutions based on distributed ledger technologies (DLT) make it possible to implement decentralized applications that perform critical economic and social functions, likely to compete with traditionally established national institutions. Cross-border implementation of such decentralized applications poses a difficult task of ensuring the interests of society and the state in a situation where the source of potential challenges does not have its own identity. Properties, both positive and negative in decentralized systems, may be a spontaneous result of their algorithmic logic, or the initial conditions for their penetration into public life and the characteristics of society. Understanding and managing the possible risks of implementation of decentralized solutions into various economic and social structures is a critical issue of digital transformation and global inclusion and cooperation. Today DLT is mostly known for blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Also, for the past year such phenomena as ‘metaverse’ and NFT have been gaining lots of popularity among the users of the Web. With metaverse considered to be the next step of the evolution of social media, it is still, though unknown how to regulate such a big new virtual reality. Many fear that in the end what will thrive inside the metaverse is social inequality. As in the information space, the snowball effect is not limited by natural boundaries, the level of social inequality in such space is significantly higher than in the real world. For example, one blogger makes 10 dollars a month, while a few other bloggers make millions or even tens of millions of dollars a month. Due to the consolidation of various target platforms, this phenomenon will be even more prominent in the metaverse. So, the question arises – is it possible to prevent that or users’ escapism to the new virtual worlds inevitably create new inequality problems? And the Internet that was supposed to unite people, divide them even more? Metaverse is often perceived as an experiment, a playground for kids. Most people see it as a set of VR games or simulations. One of the reasons why this happens is that an NFT, yet another component of the metaverse, is a very popular product among gamers. But it is bigger than that – it is the next step of social networks and probably our understanding of the Internet. Legal issues, along with the issues related to cryptocurrencies used in the metaverse, create uncertainty that turns this field into a gray area of law. So, the question is how to define new regulatory and legal framework for metaverses by the states and international and regional bodies, does it even need creation? Or a paradise can be built without becoming a part of the existing legal system, and new rules will be created along the way (bitcoin wise)? We will analyze the state of the art of the awareness and readiness of our societies during our workshop.

Expected Outcomes

The workshop is set to prompt investigation into potential creation of a joint regulation towards DLT-based solutions, especially metaverses and cryptocurrencies. All of the stakeholders are expected to cooperate and share their experience on this topic. At the same time, it is important for the workshop to strike a careful balance between risks and opportunities of creating the joint regulation for DLT. This is a perfect moment for governments, users and IT giants to hear their mutual concerns and find solutions to their sticking points. Only global cooperation can protect ordinary users from violating their rights by the still ‘gray’ areas of the law. Also, this session is set to discuss pros and cons of using DLT-based technologies for socially important areas of the people’s life, such as education or healthcare. Speakers are set to answer the question of the possibility of global cooperation on this level so that no one is left behind. This workshop may as well lead to creation of a working group on future regulation of metaverses or DLT-based technology as a whole.

Hybrid Format: Making everyone feel themselves as full-fledged part of discussion is one of the main aims of the event, that is why Birds of a Feather format was chosen for this workshop as it allows both speakers and listeners to actively participate in the discussion making it possible to hear different points of view. This attributes both to on-site and online participants. Some of the speakers are also joining us online due to inability to participate offline. The named speakers will briefly (5 minutes) express their opinion on the topic after which everyone is welcome to share their view and join the discussion both online and offline. The two moderators – the onsite and online – will ensure that all members of the workshop who wish to do so are given the floor and that everyone, not only speakers but also participants, have spoken their mind. To equalize the event moderators will rotate the audience, giving word to online and offline participants one by one. Also, the remote moderator will not only monitor the request from the floor, but will also register relevant interventions coming from the online participants in the platform's chat, to be shared with all attendees at the end of the session. Mentimeter (https://www.menti.com) Session would involve instant feedback collection from the audience as a main feature. All participants, including those online, would be asked to access Mentimeter via the link and QR-code that would help to interact and allow for a quick reaction of the audience to certain aspects of discussion or answer the prepared questions.

Online Participation


Usage of IGF Official Tool.