Imagine that you could be somewhere without being there. Imagine if you could attend a business meeting without being there or make passionate submissions to a Judge who sees your movements from your living room. Imagine if you could window-shop the latest handbag straight from your bedroom if you could walk and talk to the attendant about the bags straight from your living room. Imagine if you could walk through a car showroom and have a long conversation with the seller of the car straight from your house in Ruaka.  Closer home, imagine if you could go to your favourite cake shop, inquire about all the cakes from the attendant and buy a cake all from the comfort of your own house. Well, imagine no more, welcome to the Multi – sorry Metaverse.

In 2021, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO announced that Facebook is changing its name to Meta. This is part of Facebook’s long-term plan to create a global virtual community called the Metaverse. The Metaverse is a “virtual environment” that allows you to use a virtual presence to enter and interact with people beyond the device screen. Essentially, it’s a world of endless, interconnected virtual communities where people can meet, work and play, using virtual reality headsets, augmented reality glasses, smartphone apps or other devices. [1] In simpler terms, the Metaverse refers to a virtual world in which you can interact with other people and places using avatars. [2]

One thing that the Metaverse will do is empower people to be able to create virtual presence avatars. This is essentially a virtual version of you. This virtual presence looks exactly like you and when you’re using virtual reality glasses it means that it will also feel and seem like you (if you’ve ever watched a movie in 3D, imagine the 3D movie experience amplified to the millionth).

The Metaverse is likely to have an impact on all areas of life across the globe. It will tap the close to 3 billion Facebook users and the 2 billion WhatsApp users already active on the platforms to create virtual communities that will disrupt the world to come. It will disrupt business, trade, banking, litigation and virtually every area of living. To put it into context, I want you to imagine life before the Internet and life after the Internet, in a few decades your children will be referring to life before Meta and life after Meta.

The Metaverse is essentially fiction brought to life. From Dr Who to Star Trek to Avengers to The Flash to every movie or TV series that has sought to entertain us by bringing to life the idea of a virtual or shared presence. It will have huge impacts on different areas of everyday life, from changing how e-commerce is done to Recreational gaming and Communication, the Metaverse will engulf every aspect of our being.

But perhaps none will have a greater impact than the Right to Privacy and the nature of E-Commerce. Even before the name change, Facebook was knee-deep in allegations of data mining and illegal data sharing. This is both from incidental breaches where hackers were able to bypass Facebook server protections and deliberate data breaches where Facebook is accused of selling private user information to Advertisers. [3]

In a world where the digital meets reality, there is a legitimate concern over the protection of personal data. This is especially important when one considers the cross-border nature of the Metaverse. If someone in Nairobi uses their virtual presence to shop in an accessories shop in Dubai, their information passes through different servers both at the point of logging into the Metaverse and the point of purchase. If this information is leaked at any point in the chain without their consent, where can they sue for the breach?

What this means is that they may be a need to develop a cross-border legal framework to address the challenges that are likely to be encountered in the Metaverse. There is a need for different data protection regimes to work towards creating a virtual legal atmosphere, a virtual “Bill of Rights”, a specialized dispute resolution framework that centres on resolving disputes occurring in the Metaverse.

In e-commerce, with the onboarding of digital technologies like cryptocurrencies in trade, it will mean that the nature of disputes touching on the Metaverse will be different altogether. For the lawyer, imagine this, a client walks to you and says, I was in the Metaverse and bought a car in virtual Dubai and paid by Bitcoin, but they haven’t delivered it 3 months later, what do I do?  Shocked? Well, Welcome to the Metaverse.




Featured Image by <a href=”;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=6904045″>Pete Linforth</a> from <a href=”;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=6904045″>Pixabay</a>