By Mathea Bulander (Partner) and Staci Kaliner (Managing Director)

Last week, the Metaverse Standards Forum launched a new consortium that will focus on “interoperability standards needed to build the open metaverse.”[1]  The Forum is actively building out various initiatives and working groups, and membership is open to any company or standards-based organization.  The outcomes the Forum may realize are largely to be determined.  This uncertainty is partly because the “metaverse” is not comprised of any specific network or set of technologies.  Rather, it is a general term often used to describe the evolution of the internet.  The movement toward the metaverse is an evolution from the two dimensions of the world wide web toward a space built upon three-dimensional renderings and multi-sensory technologies.  Indeed, the technologies used to create virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) spaces are numerous.  They number at least as many as the companies that promote them, and their numbers are rapidly expanding. 

Although the stated objectives of the Forum are laudable and, in fact, may be imperative, it is notable that, to date, companies such as Apple, Roblox, and popular crypto-based metaverse platforms like Decentraland (among others) have not joined the Forum.  Without near universal participation from the largest organizations, market forces may work against the Forum and make it challenging to overcome the current environment of individually branded applications and technologies to establish a unified platform that allows people to seamlessly connect and interact in a consistent and meaningful way. 

From the vantage point of the information law professional, we applaud the prospect of a more uniform approach, unified terminology, and consistent guidelines and standards.  Establishing basic standards and guidelines for interoperability will likely result in more uniform data formats and common networks that would increase efficiencies along the entire data lifecycle.  Such features would be a benefit to the end user who may be legally obligated to protect, preserve, collect, produce, or destroy data created as they move through the metaverse.  Ultimately, the Forum could facilitate more meaningful information governance. 

The authors will be following the Forum with great interest, and we will continue to write about developments in the coming months as the Forum defines initiatives and raises issues important to all those who create and use data daily.

For additional information on this topic, please contact Mathea Bulander at mbulander@redgravellp.com or Staci Kaliner at skaliner@redgravellp.com.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Redgrave LLP or its clients.