3 - 6 minute read
France’s Economy Ministry has opened a consultation seeking views on policy issues related to the emerging metaverse, including the privacy, health, and environmental risks of virtual worlds. As highlighted in the Original Article published on April 12, the consultation aims to create “digital sovereignty” for Europe and establish an alternative to the virtual online worlds promoted by international giants such as Meta. The government of Emmanuel Macron is seeking to counter the dominance of international internet giants operating in the space.
The goal is to propose alternatives to virtual online worlds today put forward by international giants. It will include virtual and augmented reality, game engines, and the blockchain technology that underpins cryptocurrency. According to the consultation, “The immersive virtual worlds of tomorrow can take many forms.” The metaverse is an inclusive world that allows users to interact with a computer-generated environment using an avatar. It merges the virtual and the physical world through augmented reality, virtual reality, and 3D simulations.
During his 2022 election campaign, Macron spoke of the need to build a European metaverse, and EU officials are set to produce an EU strategy on virtual worlds in May. The metaverse has gained momentum as interest in digital transformation and digital innovation continues to grow. It is no longer a remote concept, but a space where infrastructure, technology, and creativity meet to redefine the way we experience the digital world.
In explaining the French government’s goal to establish an alternative to the virtual online worlds put forward by international giants, the consultation document stated the following: “We must collectively define a French and European strategy for decentralized, open, and interoperable immersive digital spaces that meet the values of our societies and support the emergence of new economic and social models.”
In seeking to create “digital sovereignty” for Europe, the French government is advocating for the establishment of homegrown alternatives to international giants. European consumers are concerned about the accumulation of data by international tech giants, with many observers warning that this data could be used indiscriminately, creating security and privacy concerns.
In the words of the French Economy Ministry, “the goal is to have alternative models that respect fundamental values such as digital security, sovereignty and privacy and offer opportunities to new actors.” The consultation paper emphasizes the need to design digital spaces that respect users’ privacy, that are safe, and that don’t contribute to environmental damage.
While the consultation aims to build a more socially responsible metaverse, it emphasizes the need for careful consideration of fundamental rights and economic issues, recognizing that “it is essential to ensure that these new virtual spaces do not exacerbate social fractures rather, bring people together and foster a sense of community.”
The development of a European metaverse could create new opportunities for the digital industry and open the door for new actors. It could promote diversity, respect for privacy and establish a new social model that encourages healthier digital habits. However, the consultation also raises concerns about the risk of the metaverse being controlled by powerful firms that could dominate the market, limiting the participation of innovative startups and small companies.
The Bottom Line
The French Economy Ministry has opened a consultation seeking policy solutions for key metaverse issues, which includes privacy, health, and environmental risks for virtual worlds. This is in line with the government’s approach to building “digital sovereignty” for Europe and thereby reducing the dominance of foreign tech firms. The consultation seeks to establish decentralized, open, and interoperable immersive digital spaces that meet the values of European societies while supporting the emergence of new economic and social models. Nevertheless, the metaverse poses significant challenges as industry observers warn that powerful firms could control the market, limiting the participation of innovative startups and smaller companies. Traders must, therefore, monitor and evaluate the evolution of the metaverse as regulations and competition intensify.