Butter and butter money. L’European Union would like to become the engine of the web 3 under construction, and more particularly metaverse coming. However, she would like, if possible, keep control on all of these new virtual worlds. In a document that leaked to the international press, the European Commission lays out the hopes and opportunities of the sector, but also the risks related to these new technologies.
How can innovation and private initiative rhyme with respect for European values? This is the four-star challenge awaiting Ursula Von der Leyen’s teams. And it’s in Brussels that it’s happening.
In the absence of a law or a bill, the European Commission opted this time for a work documentbecause it fears legislating too soon on an area whose contours are still a little too vague. Patrick Gradythe editor-in-chief of the Brussels magazine Metaverse EU, has a front row seat to witness all this.
And, for him, Europe is procrastinating a bit after going too fast on certain subjects. He takes the example of the recent Data Governance Actwhich is close to killing in the bud European smart contracts. It is for these reasons that continental officials take their time with such a delicate subject as metaverses.
In a working note published last summer, the commissioner European Union in charge of the Single Market, Industry, Digital, Defense and Space notably expressed its fears to see the private sector take over this sector definitively.
Thierry Breton, he is the one we are talking about, is a great French boss appointed to this position in 2019. Since then, he has been watching over the destinies of web 3 in Europe, and the task is difficult. In fact, the spectrum of web 2entirely in the pay of GAFAM Americans and BATX Chinese, hangs over Europe and makes its leaders fear a loss of control on these new virtual territories.
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… but would like to be able to apply European values there
However, aware of the enormous potential of the sector, the Commission wishes to tackle things head-on, aided by European pressure groups working for a continental preference in the matter. Here is what a person in charge of one of these lobbies, called DigitalEurope :
“Virtual worlds are increasingly part of a modern digital industry, and Europe excels in this. So we would like to see a strategy that aims to support that. »
But to risks loss of sovereignty are added those of a non-respect European rights elementary, as confirmed by a spokesperson for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an American NGO specializing in the protection of freedoms on the Internet:
“These technologies pose substantial human rights risks and could continue the march towards increasingly pervasive collection of sensitive data and pervasive surveillance by governments and corporations, even going into the minds and people’s emotions. »
Gossips will explain to us that this is already the case with web 2, and that there is no reason for it to be otherwise with its successor, web 3. Not false!
Towards global governance so as not to isolate Europe?
That said, the past mistakes can also be used to build a better future. And this is what the European commissioners in charge of this file must tell themselves. Because for them, there is no doubt about the interest of technology, but above all about the need to control it :
“Virtual worlds offer unprecedented opportunities in many areas of society, such as health, education and culture. This technological shift also involves new forms of global governance on topics such as technological standards, identity management, censorship and surveillance. »
In order to reflect on all this, the EU is giving itself a few more months to cover all the themes while encouraging the emergence of centers of reflection and initiatives. There European Commission seems to have become well aware of the colossal stakes of the subject. But it now remains to be seen whether this European mountain of good intentions will not give birth to a regulatory little mouse, dont l’UE a le secret.
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