The metaverse will bring a further erosion of privacy

Unlike some of my tech peers, I don’t see the Metaverse as a virtual world in which we work, socialize, and shop. I see it more as a mom...


Unlike some of my tech peers, I don’t see the Metaverse as a virtual world in which we work, socialize, and shop. I see it more as a moment, reached in 2020 and this year because of the global pandemic, when the digital world became as important as the physical world. This is a shift from the idea that physical reality is superior and preferred to digital reality.

Work for many has turned into a series of Zoom meetings, people are buy virtual real estateand children spend time with their friends in fortnite and Roblox. Rebranding from Facebook to Meta signals that there is no going back to the way things were before, as a critical mass of people have realized the benefits of operating in a digital reality.

And with this collapsing of realities comes the realization that the shreds of privacy we once enjoyed could soon turn into a dystopian nightmare where we can be arbitrarily banished from the virtual environments in which we live, work and play.

Related: The Metaverse: Brave New World by Mark Zuckerberg

An erosion of anonymity

As digital resources become more and more essential to us, they are intertwined. Although we have not yet reached the point where everything is integrated under one account, we can see where things are going based on what has already happened, especially when it comes to using the Facebook and Google accounts as a gateway to many different platforms.

Many of today’s digital privacy concerns – such as identity theft, theft of personal information, and targeted advertising – can be traced to the very breakthrough that made Facebook so successful, which was enough to get people to register with their real name. Before Facebook, most people used pseudonyms online and weren’t comfortable sharing so much personal information openly. They were anonymous, acting on separate forums. With Facebook having people names, connecting payment services like Apple Pay and Google Pay, as well as Amazon shopping profiles, all of a sudden most people have an online persona that shows how they interact in the realm. digital. Connecting all of these services already has significant privacy implications, leaving people’s data vulnerable to hacks or abuse.

Related: The data economy is a dystopian nightmare

When we spend most of our lives in a digital realm, the threats of compromised data and being closely watched, among other things, become much more acute. To borrow a term from the crypto world: it’s almost like putting your whole life in hot storage, where it’s always accessible and vulnerable to bad actors, as opposed to cold storage, where only you control the keys to your assets.

This change prepares us for a future where whoever controls access to what becomes the Metaverse Master Profile can enforce the law against the provider of that account. There may be situations where if a person does not comply with mandates or regulations, that person may find themselves de-platforming – which, in this case, would cut off the only critical pathway in which we work and socialize. This individual would become a digital pariah.

When Mark Zuckerberg announced his company’s rebranding, people commented that when you die in the metaverse, you “die” in real life. It’s a scary idea. You are still alive, but you cannot access any of the people, places, resources, or tools you previously had access to. Something like this just wasn’t possible in physical life before. Now, this can happen quite easily, particularly because there is not much clarity about our rights and the legal process required in the digital realm.

Erosion of rights

There is already a legal plan for this scenario. The Patriot Act, passed after 9/11, essentially gave the government the freedom to do whatever it wanted, without due process. Under the Patriot Act, if the federal government, through the CIA, FBI, or one of its law enforcement branches, submits a surveillance request to Google, Facebook, or Apple to all activities of a user in the United States, the company is not authorized by law to even notify this person that she is under surveillance. There are massive penalties for them taking the user’s side in any way.

Related: The new path to privacy after the failure of European data regulations

We now place more and more importance on our digital lives without clarity on our rights in this new world. We have already placed too much trust in proven entities by abusing that trust and failing to protect the information provided to them. We have joined these systems and will effectively become digital serfs where we exist at the convenience of the platform provider. We are all alone, without any rights in the digital domain.

If we become troublesome, we can easily be silenced and distorted. It gives us hope for the best that we are not crossing an invisible line. Unfortunately, in the current climate, censorship and de-platforming have become commonplace, affecting people who weren’t breaking any laws, but just had an opinion that’s not in line with the mainstream – like arguing against mandates from mask, to discuss alternative COVID medications or even studying Disinformation on Facebook.

Ultimately, the only way to keep us safe is for all of us to take full responsibility for ourselves. After all, there is always the possibility that someone could enter your home, so you should keep your doors locked and take the extra step of securing the deadbolt. Currently, there are alternatives to mainstream platforms that are decentralized, open source, and respectful of user privacy. Hopefully, instead of relying on the same big tech platforms we had in the age of web2, we instead focus on building the metaverse from the ground up in a way that really gives users the control of their digital lives.

This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Colin Pope is an entrepreneur and the founder of Presearch, a private, decentralized search engine with 2.2 million users. He is also the founder of ShopCity.com, a community commerce platform connecting local businesses and consumers.