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Staying safe in the Metaverse

This weekend saw the start of the third annual Metaverse Safety Week. Created and promoted by the XR Safety Initiative, a global non-profit organisation whose mission is to help “build safe and inclusive immersive realities”, Metaverse Safety Week, or MSW, seeks to raise the profile of safety in the Metaverse.

Created and promoted by the XR Safety Initiative, or XRSI, a global non-profit organization whose mission is to help “build safe and inclusive immersive realities”, Metaverse Safety Week, or MSW, is XRSI’s flagship virtual conference aimed at bringing together the Metaverse safety community to share ideas and to discuss the challenges associated with Metaverse mass adoption as we move toward the next iteration of the internet, the Metaverse.

This years’ MSW runs across five themed days. Saturday was dedicated to Human Rights in the Metaverse, today’s schedule was geared toward Digital Culture, Arts and Media, Tuesday will focus on Child Safety and Children’s Rights, Wednesday will be all about Medical XR and Immersive Healthcare, and Policy, Trust and Governance will wrap up proceedings on Thursday.

Key speakers include Member of Congress and U.S. House of representatives Lori Trahan, Deputy Commissioner of the Information Commissioner’s Office Stephen Bonner, Astronaut Sian Procter, Australian Government eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant, Deputy Assistant National Cyber Director at the Executive Office of the President Sunita Patel and Professor of Social Psychology at the London School of Economics and Political Science Sonia Livingstone.

Key talks we’re looking forward to at are Lori Trahan’s presentation around the benefits the Metaverse holds for future generations, and the possible risks, Sonia Livingstone’s “Advocating for Children’s Rights in the Era of Constant Reality Capture”, and Julie Inman Grant’s closing keynote “Looking forward to the Safe Metaverse for Children”.

Ahead of Tuesday’s agenda on Child Safety and Children’s Rights its worth looking at the UK Government’s Online Safety Bill, which we originally reported on way back in March of this year and again in July as we tracked the bills delayed progress through parliament. The Bill, which was dropped from the legislative calendar in July to allow time to debate the equally contentious Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, seeks to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online.

The Bill is meant to protect children from harmful content such as pornography, to limit people’s exposure to illegal content while protecting freedom of speech, and require social media platforms, search engines, and other apps and websites who allow people to post their own content, to protect children and tackle illegal activity, by removing content that is deemed to be “legal but harmful”, such as content that promotes self-harm, suicide, and eating disorders.

MPs have voted to drop the controversial “harmful communications” offence and to return the Bill to Committee in order to delete the unpopular “legal but harmful” clause, which was criticized for posing a risk to free speech and handing big tech companies too much power. Online safety campaigners have argued that removing the “legal but harmful” content provision has watered down the Bill. Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan has denied weakening laws, saying that tech companies had the expertise to protect people online.

This years’ Metaverse Safety Week runs from the 10th to the 15th of December. Regular admission is free. Don’t forget to leave a comment below!


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