The French Economy Ministry has launched a consultation, published on Tuesday, aimed at addressing the dominance of international internet giants in the metaverse. The government led by President Emmanuel Macron is seeking public opinions on various policy issues, including privacy, health, and environmental risks associated with virtual worlds. This move is a part of Macron’s broader vision of establishing “digital sovereignty” for Europe, which often implies the creation of homegrown alternatives to major US companies, such as Meta.
“The immersive virtual worlds of tomorrow can take many forms,” reads the consultation, which is open for public input until May 2. Among the various technologies mentioned are virtual and augmented reality, game engines, and the blockchain technology that underlies cryptocurrencies. The ultimate objective is to “propose an alternative to the virtual online worlds today put forward by international giants.”
France dreams of a European metaverse
During his 2022 election campaign, President Macron highlighted the importance of building a European metaverse. Concurrently, officials within the European Union are preparing to unveil an EU strategy on virtual worlds in May. The European Commission also published a consultation last week, addressing concerns over the role of big “gatekeepers” in blocking competition from smaller players, as well as fundamental rights issues such as openness and equality.
The French government’s initiative to create a European metaverse represents a significant step toward countering the dominance of international internet giants in the flourishing virtual world space. By addressing policy concerns and promoting European alternatives, France aims to foster an environment that encourages competition and preserves fundamental rights.
This consultation and the impending EU strategy on virtual worlds highlight a growing awareness among European governments of the potential implications of the metaverse on various aspects of society. As the metaverse continues to evolve and expand, it will be crucial for policymakers to address these issues and establish a framework that ensures a fair, open, and inclusive virtual environment for all.
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