Senator Urges FTC To Monitor Threats To Children In Metaverse

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Feb 17, 2022 - 02:20 AM

A group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) urging the agency responsible for consumer protection to monitor the metaverse for threats against children. 

Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Representatives Kathy Castor (FL-14) and Lori Trahan (MA-03) asked the FTC to use its full authority under the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act and Section 5 of the FTC Act to ensure children are protected in the new online universe. 

"Children's increasing use of VR warrants serious concerns about new threats to young users' wellbeing. Many VR platforms and headsets currently do not have basic parental controls, and reports point to harms such as harassment and unsafe content in the metaverse," the lawmakers wrote. 

The letter comes as millions of parents bought their children Meta's (formerly known as Facebook) Oculus Quest 2 goggles for Christmas. We previously noted the dark side of the metaverse and documented instances of possible child grooming within one of the virtual reality headset's most popular chatroom services VRChat.

A clip shared by YouTuber "The Dark Maze" uncovered several instances of a serious problem in VRChat: child exploitation and sexualization. The Dark Maze said VRChat is "not a place for children."

Following our reporting last month, Oculus recently released a statement indicating the addition of a "personal boundary" (think of a personal bubble) that will protect users from being virtually assaulted by others.

We ask the question: "Why didn't Oculus enforce these boundaries from the beginning?" 

The Dark Maze, a metaverse developer who has spent thousands of hours in the virtual world, also documented instances of "adults in the metaverse fantasizing sex with toddlers." The developer said:

"ZeroHedge was the first major news publication to document our story of a VR Developer's experience in the metaverse and expose the dark side of it. Corporate media has stayed silent on the horrible accounts of child grooming in and VRChat, perhaps because their corporate sponsors are plowing billions of dollars into metaverse investments."

The developer could be right about corporate media failing to report child threats in the metaverse because, as Goldman Sachs equity strategist Eric Sheridan explains, mega-corporations are plowing sizeable investments into Web 3.0 (a fully decentralized online ecosystem that includes the potential for a metaverse, an immersive world that acts in parallel to the physical world). He believes the metaverse will present a total addressable market of about $2.6 trillion (most bearish case) to $12.5 trillion (most bullish case) within the next 10-15 years. If mega-corporations need people to join the metaverse - there can't be bad press about it. 

It was only after our reporting last month that more people are becoming serious about protecting children in this new digital world.