The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) is conducting its 90th General Assembly at New Delhi, India. It began on 18 October 2022 (Tuesday) and will be wound up on 21 October 2022 (Friday).
The Indian delegation had bilateral meetings with representatives from several countries to discuss matters related to police cooperation for enhancing criminal intelligence sharing; geo-location of fugitives and offenders, combating terrorism, terror financing, and virtual radicalization, coordinating efforts to prevent cybercrime and online child sexual exploitation.
After decades the Central Bureau of Investigation is holding the session of this Interpol General Assembly. The countries taking part in this conference are- UK, The US, Australia, UAE, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Austria, South Africa, New Zealand, Japan, Bhutan, Namibia, Bahrain, Russia, Canada, Oman, Serbia, Malaysia and Mongolia.
On 21 October 2022 (Thursday), the Interpol launched the first ever fully operational metaverse specifically designed for law enforcement agencies worldwide.
It explained that the Interpol metaverse allows registered users to tour a virtual facsimile of the Interpol General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France without any geographical or physical boundaries, interact with other officers via their avatars, and even take immersive training courses in forensic investigation and other policing capabilities. The member countries were able to digitally enter the Lyon building through avatars, using virtual reality headsets.
The Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock said, “For many, the metaverse seems to herald an abstract future, but the issues it raises are those that have always motivated Interpol – supporting our member countries to fight crime and making the world, virtual or not, safer for those who inhabit it.”
It has been stated that as the number of Metaverse users grows and the technology further develops, the list of possible crimes will only expand to potentially include crimes against children, data theft, money laundering, financial fraud, counterfeiting, ransomware, phishing, and sexual assault and harassment.
One of the challenges in law enforcement is that some of the above mentioned threats which are crimes in the physical world are not considered criminal acts in the virtual world.
With reference to this challenge the Interpol’s Executive Director of Technology and Innovation Madan Oberoi said, “By identifying these risks from the outset, we can work with stakeholders to shape the necessary governance frameworks and cut off future criminal markets before they are fully formed”.
Oberoi also said that the metaverse has the potential to transform every aspect of our daily lives with enormous implications for law enforcement.
The capacity building in the metaverse holds particular promise, offering students more opportunities to collaborate and network, ensuring a greater engagement through immersion and enabling hands-on activities.
According to announcements made in the conference, the World Economic Forum, which has partnered with the Interpol, Meta, Microsoft and others in an initiative to define and govern the metaverse, has warned that social engineering scams, violent extremism and misinformation could be particular challenges.
Praveen Sinha, special director, India’s Central Bureau of Investigations, stated that it has become difficult to survey cybercrime on account of its global nature, and that the coordination factor is necessary for making the efforts worth it. Therefore, the only answer is international cooperation, coordination, trust, and real-time sharing of information.