This just blows my mind. Talk about Nanny State Snow Flakes.
Story by Anthony France • 7h
Detectives are investigating the first case of alleged rape in the metaverse after a child was “attacked” playing a virtual reality video game.
The girl, aged under 16, wasn’t physically injured as there was no physical assault. But she is said to have been left distraught after her avatar - or digital character - was attacked online by several adult men in a virtual “room”.
She had been wearing an immersive headset during the “attack”, the Daily Mail reported.
Police leaders are concerned she suffered the same psychological and emotional trauma as someone raped in the real world as the ‘VR’ experience is designed to be completely immersive.
Ian Critchley, the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s lead for child protection and abuse investigation, said: “The metaverse creates a gateway for predators to commit horrific crimes against children.
”The unusual case has prompted questions about whether the police should be pursuing online offences while they and prosecutors struggle with a backlog of real rape cases."
Details of the virtual reality case are said to have been kept secret to protect the child involved, amid fears a prosecution may never be possible.
One senior officer familiar with the case told the Mail: “This child experienced psychological trauma similar to that of someone who has been physically raped.
“There is an emotional and psychological impact on the victim that is longer term than any physical injuries. It poses a number of challenges for law enforcement, given [that] current legislation is not set up for this.”
Donna Jones, chairman of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, said women and children deserve greater protection, adding: “We need to update our laws because they have not kept pace with the risks of harm that are developing from artificial intelligence and offending on platforms like the metaverse.
“The Government needs to look at changing the law to protect women and children from harm in these virtual environments.”
Police suspect developments in gaming have opened up new avenues for cybercrime, including virtual robbery, ransomware, fraud and identity theft.
However, existing legislation is unlikely to cover rape in the metaverse because the Sexual Offences Act defines assault as the physical touching of another person sexually without consent.
The metaverse also blurs geographical boundaries, making it difficult to determine which law enforcement agency has jurisdiction over an incident when users and perpetrators are in different countries.
The Metropolitan Police told the Standard it had no knowledge if the case.
The NPCC was approached for comment.
A spokesman for Meta, which runs the free online VR game Horizon Worlds, said: “The kind of behaviour described has no place on our platform, which is why for all users we have an automatic protection called personal boundary, which keeps people you don’t know a few feet away from you.”
News of the case comes after the head of the National Crime Agency said rapes and murders committed in virtual reality in the Metaverse might have to be treated as criminal offences because of the real life impact on the victims.
Graeme Biggar said that people would “feel a physical manifestation” while wearing a haptic suit - which allows a wearer to sense actions carried out in virtual reality - if targeted by a sexual or other violent attack.
He told the Standard this was something that law enforcers “need to prepare for” and that his agency was already engaged in trying to work out how to police the Metaverse.