Metaverse platforms could become a valuable tool for law enforcement training and crime scene preservation and analysis, according to a white paper released by Interpol’s Metaverse Expert Group.
The research report published by the international law enforcement organization delves into the multifaceted aspects of the metaverse, considering a variety of use cases that could aid law enforcement agencies around the world.
The document also explores the considerations of investigations related to the metaverse and cybercrime, as well as the challenges of accessing and recovering evidence from servers, engines, platforms and virtual asset analytics.
The working group was established in October 2022 and developed a range of recommendations and guidance to combat the potential misuse of metaverse platforms while also leveraging the platforms as a tool for law enforcement.
Metaverse as a law enforcement tool
Interpol’s report highlights a handful of concrete use cases for law enforcement agencies that tap into the physical, augmented and virtual reality aspects of metaverse applications.
Metaverse environments are expected to become essential tools for immersive training that could streamline frontline policing. The report highlights how different agencies will be able to coordinate and respond more effectively to various situations through Metaverse-based training and simulations:
“Recreating crime scenes, information sharing and planning of tactics will boost situational awareness and consequently impact frontline policing competences positively.”
Another innovative approach is to use metaverse platforms to create virtual replicas of crime scenes. This allows investigators to access and analyze crime scenes indefinitely.
This approach is touted to allow extensive cross-examination of evidence, potentially enabling juries or judges to virtually visit crime scenes to better understand the context and details of cases.
Augmented, virtual and extended reality tools are also highlighted as significant tools that will improve investigations and law enforcement. The tools leverage spatial perception and cognition to enable immersive 3D workspaces:
“Through its 3D user interface, these tools tap into our natural spatial reasoning and memory capabilities, offering investigators a unique method for addressing intricate knowledge challenges.”
Extended reality tools have become important for cryptocurrency-related investigations through services like Chainalysis, which provides investigators with a virtual environment to connect and visualize transactions and token movements.
The report also endeavors to define what constitutes crimes and harmful actions in the metaverse to allow for effective policing and safety of the platforms.
Interpol’s white paper highlights existing issues, which include nonfungible token fraud, cyber-physical attacks, impersonation by theft of digital identities, theft of 3D property and digital assets, the grooming of children, and stalking and sexual harassment.
Financial crimes in the metaverse have also been a growing concern. Interpol notes that “Metacrime” could become an increasing issue as more people shift into virtual environments daily.
Metaverse forensics and investigations
As metaverse environments attract more users, Interpol believes these platforms will become an important source of data and evidence for investigators. This, in turn, requires law enforcement and legal systems to become acquainted with the space.
The report notes that investigators will need to learn how to access data from virtual reality headsets and haptic devices, recover evidence from metaverse infrastructure and acquire data from third-party service providers.
The scope of requirements will require training for first responders, forensic specialists and the broader criminal justice system.
Interpol concludes that a holistic approach involving multi-stakeholder engagement and cross-border collaboration will be required for an effective law enforcement response to metacrime, given that the metaverse spans multiple jurisdictions, dimensions and organizations.