Lawmakers Advocate Extending UK Online Safety Bill to Include the Metaverse

Lawmakers in the United Kingdom are urging that legislation designed to regulate internet services should encompass activities taking place within the Metaverse, a virtual reality space. Members of the House of Lords engaged in a parliamentary session on July 12 to discuss whether the proposed Online Safety Bill should cover “harmful content” that users may encounter within the virtual environment of the Metaverse. Concerns were raised regarding the potential exposure of children to disturbing material online.

Baron Clement-Jones emphasized the importance of including the Metaverse and the digital environments created within it within the scope of the legislation. Failing to do so, according to the Baron, would neglect the safety of children and vulnerable adults and demonstrate a failure in fulfilling their responsibilities.

The key argument presented by several parliament members centered around the bill’s applicability to “anything communicated by means of an internet service.” Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay suggested that this definition could encompass virtual objects, avatars, as well as text and images generated by other users.

Regulations pertaining to government oversight and safeguarding online activities vary across countries and are still being developed as the adoption of virtual platforms continues to grow. In the United States, advocacy groups have called upon Meta, the company behind the metaverse platform Horizon Worlds, to prohibit the usage of their platform by minors, citing concerns of harassment and privacy breaches.

The Online Safety Bill is scheduled for further debate in the House of Lords on July 17. Following the completion of this stage, the bill will proceed to a third reading in the house, allowing for final amendments before being enacted into law.

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