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Metaverse still not ready for virtual weddings and legal proceedings

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Metaverse still not ready for virtual weddings and legal proceedings

As the global Web3 ecosystem continued to evolve at a staggering pace, so have the various use cases associated with this niche. In a striking new development, a high-ranking Singaporean government minister recently noted that legal marriage proceedings, court case disputes, and government services could one day be conducted using Metaverse platforms.

While delivering a keynote address at Singapore’s TechLaw Fest 2022 late last month, the country’s second minister for law, Edwin Tong, was quoted as saying that he would not be surprised if, in the future, intimate events such as the solemnization of marriages as well as legal disputes “could take place within the Metaverse,” adding:

“It would not be unthinkable that, besides registration of marriages, other government services can soon be accessed online via the Metaverse. There’s no reason why the same cannot be done for legal services. The pandemic has already shown us that even dispute resolution — once seen to be a physical, high-touch process […] can be held online.”

Expounding on his stance, Tong used a hypothetical example of a dispute involving an accident on a construction site, which he believes could be viewed in a 3D environment using augmented reality technology, thus allowing for a better reimagining of the accident. “You can put yourself into the actual tunnel or the oil containment facility to look at the dispute,” he added.

A hybrid outlook such as this, Tong believes, could make the dispute resolution process extremely convenient and efficient for governments across the planet.

Could digital legal proceedings become the norm?

According to Joseph Collement, general counsel for cryptocurrency exchange and wallet developer Bitcoin.com, dematerializing government services that require in-person attendance is the next, most coherent step for nations across the globe, especially as the world shifts from an analogous age to a digital one in this post-covid era. He added:

“Nowadays, approximately one-third of legal agreements worldwide are signed electronically. Therefore, it comes as no surprise to see modern nations such as Singapore adopt all-inclusive technologies like the Metaverse for government services. The same thinking should apply to certain civil court cases, which are still subject to extreme delays due to backlogs. While justice is delayed, the involved parties often have to suffer.”

A similar view is shared by Alexander Firsov, chief Web3.0 officer for Sensorium — an A.I.-driven Metaverse platform. He told Cointelegraph that as a space dedicated to bridging the gap between the real world and digital experiences, it’s only logical that the Metaverse will one day transform into a medium where legal proceedings can take place. 

In his view, by adopting immersive technologies, virtual legal proceedings won’t feel much different from real-life events. In fact, he believes the use of photorealistic avatars can bring a degree of humanization and presence that online meetings fail to meet. Lastly, Firsov noted that justice systems all over the world are notoriously slow, costly and the Metaverse can help address these inefficiencies, adding:

“The Metaverse can have a positive impact when it comes to the work of law enforcement agencies and other legal entities on issues such as cooperation, record keeping, and data transmission, as it holds the ability to improve important processes through the use of emerging technologies such as blockchain.”

Not everyone is sold on the idea

Dimitry Mihaylov, A.I. scientist, UN expert contractor and associate professor at the National University of Singapore, told Cointelegraph that the first problem when talking about digitally facilitated legal proceedings is that of intellectual property (IP) based legislation — since geographical borders do not factor into proceedings taking place in the Metaverse, least as of yet. He explained:

“When you get a patent, it’s valid only within a particular territory. Yet, with the Metaverse, it will be used by people worldwide. People can accidentally violate laws by using a patent in the Metaverse that is outside its area of legalization. Here’s where relevant authorities need to determine who owns the IP and under which court’s jurisdiction it falls.”

The second issue, in his opinion, pertains to data collection and ownership. This is because mainstream tech conglomerates have for the longest time been abusing the data of their clients and, therefore, it will be important that regulations pertaining to the storing and use of legal data on the Metaverse are developed before any court proceedings can take place on it.

Collement believes a physical courtroom presents features that cannot be replicated in the Metaverse. For example, the cross-examination of a witness in front of a jury to attack his credibility is an important strategy in certain cases. Even with advanced video-conferencing, some important cues and details from a witness examination can be missed by the jury. He added:

“It is unclear to me that the Metaverse is ready to host trials. Uncertainty remains as to the enforceability of Metaverse-held judgments in countries that are a member of the Hague Convention but who have not yet issued any guidance or laws in regard to these virtual proceedings.”

Furthermore, Mihaylov noted that the question of copyright is quite pertinent in this regard since it protects digital works across many countries. He explained that nowadays, companies like Google are extremely swift with their copyright actions and block any sites that infringe on their rights. “Copyright covers more than 100 countries, and it’s very close to the model that the Metaverse should use. But it has no applications yet, and no such precedents have arisen so far,” he added.

Are the masses willing to accept court proceedings on the Metaverse?

Mattan Erder, associate general counsel for public blockchain infrastructure provider Orbs, told Cointelegraph that as things stand, it is actually a question of whether people are truly willing to believe the outcome of what occurs on the Metaverse as being real, especially from a legal perspective. In his view, most individuals are quite detached from a reality where they can ever see trials deciding the future of an individual, adding:

“I think we have some time before these things become real. However, the more people live their lives in the Metaverse, the closer we will get to a mental shift. There are a variety of elements that need more development before it will be really possible to have these types of core social institutions exist there.”

In Erder’s opinion, the situation being discussed here is one that is usually dealt with by governments almost exclusively. Therefore, it makes sense for the masses not to get ahead of themselves in thinking that any of these changes are going to come in the near term. He believes that legal systems have a clear preference when it comes to wanting the physical presence of all those involved in a trial, adding:

“Most people have the belief that being in the same room with someone, such as a witness, and looking them in the eyes, seeing their mannerisms, etc., is important in evaluating their credibility. Democracies grant defendants the right to directly confront the witnesses and the evidence against them, and litigants have the right to confront each other and the judge/jury.”

Lastly, a key driver when it comes to people and governments getting onboard with Metaverse-based legal proceedings and marriages is their definition of reality. To this point, Erder thinks that as the Metaverse becomes an integral part of people’s lives, the things that happen there will start to matter to people. “The Metaverse will become a microcosm of human society where there will be a natural need for things like dispute resolution,” he concluded.

The future looks “Metaverse ready”

Similarly, quite recently, the South Korean government announced that it had been actively taking steps to bolster its Metaverse ambitions by setting aside $177 million from its coffers. The country is looking to devise a platform for its citizens that grants access to a wide array of government services in a completely digital fashion.

Back in July, Metaverse infrastructure company Condense closed a seed funding round to continue the development of a 3D live streaming technology. The technology underlying the firm’s digital offering utilizes “cutting-edge computer vision, machine learning and proprietary streaming infrastructure to capture and embed a live 3D video (Video 3.0).” In the near term, the firm hopes to stream this unique live video experience into various Metaverse games and mobile applications, as well as other platforms that have been created using Unity or the Unreal Engine.

Earlier this year, Metaverse platform Decentraland laid claim to the distinguished honor of hosting the world’s first wedding on the Metaverse, with the event being attended by a total of over 2,000 guests. The proceedings were administered and solemnized by the law firm Rose Law Group.

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California fraud cases highlight the need for a regulatory crackdown on crypto

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California fraud cases highlight the need for a regulatory crackdown on crypto

The California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) announced last month that it had issued desist and refrain orders to 11 entities for violating California securities laws. Some of the highlights included allegations that they offered unqualified securities as well as material misrepresentations and omissions to investors.

These violations should remind us that while crypto is a unique and exciting industry for the public at large, it is still an area that is rife with the potential for bad players and fraud. To date, government crypto regulation has been minimal at best, with a distinct lack of action. Whether you are a full-time professional investor or just a casual fan who wants to be involved, you need to be absolutely sure of what you are getting into before getting involved in any crypto opportunity.

California has toyed with setting up a crypto-specific business registration process for those looking to do business in the state. The proposed framework was vetoed by Governor Gavin Newsom as the resources required to establish and enforce such a framework would be prohibitive for the state. While this type of compliance infrastructure has not been employed yet, it points to concerns that regulatory authorities have related to the crypto industry.

There appears to be a pattern that new industries, especially those that garner as much international attention as crypto, are especially susceptible to fraud. One must go only as far back as cannabis legalization to find the last time California had to deal with fraudulent schemes at this scale.

Related: The feds are coming for the metaverse — from Axie Infinity to Bored Apes

It appears inevitable that California, known to be a first mover in regulation and compliance, will create some form of crypto-specific compliance infrastructure in the name of consumer protection. If history is any indication, once California releases its framework, other states will follow.

Federal and state representatives have been attempting to draft legislation to establish financial standards for crypto with little luck to date. At the federal level, Senators Cory Booker, John Thune, Debbie Stabenow and John Boozman co-sponsored a bill to empower the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to serve as the regulatory body for crypto, while Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Cynthia Lummis co-sponsored a bill to establish more clear guidance on digital assets and virtual currencies. Lawmakers have even reached out to tech luminaries such as Mark Zuckerberg to weigh in on crypto fraud.

Cryptocurrencies, California, CFTC, Legislation, Law, Scams, Fraud, Bitcoin Scams
Source: Chainalysis

None of these or other similarly crypto-focused bills are expected to pass in 2022, but this level of bipartisan cooperation has been unprecedented in recent times. The collaboration should reflect just the sheer magnitude of the need for a regulatory framework. Said another way, Democrats and Republicans speaking to one another about anything should stop the presses, but the fact that they are co-sponsoring multiple bills should tell us that there is a monumental requirement for guidance.

How should one approach investing in the crypto space if the government is not going to establish controls for crypto? There are a few general points that one should consider if they are presented with a crypto investment opportunity.

Related: GameFi developers could be facing big fines and hard time

When reviewing any opportunity, do your due diligence! Do not take anyone’s word without some level of substantive support. If crypto is not an area of expertise, reach out to professionals who do have qualified experience. Make sure to utilize crypto monitoring and blockchain analysis tools, if possible, as part of the vetting process.

A common strategy of fraudsters is putting undue pressure or artificial timelines on a potential close. Slow down the process and use any and all time necessary to make an investment decision.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. As overplayed as the cliché may be, it does bring up a valid point. There have been instances of schemes offering to pay initial and ongoing dividends for any new investors that are brought in and for additional dividends to be paid from any investors that those new investors bring in. If this sounds like a pyramid or multi-level marketing scheme, that’s because it is. Terms like “No Risk Investment” get thrown around as well. Ultimately, if no one knows where the opportunity is coming from, beware.

While crypto can be a fun and electrifying topic with many legitimate opportunities, there are bad players who will take advantage of the lack of government oversight and the excitement of overenthusiastic or undereducated investors.

Zach Gordon is a certified public accountant (CPA) and vice president of crypto accounting for Propeller Industries, serving as fractional chief financial officer and adviser to a portfolio of crypto and Web3 clients. He has been named a Forty Under 40 CPA, sits on the Digital Assets Committee for the NYSSCPA and has been working with crypto clients in a variety of capacities since 2016.

This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal or investment advice. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

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NFT space bridges passions for tennis legend Maria Sharapova

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NFT space bridges passions for tennis legend Maria Sharapova

Tennis legend Maria Sharapova appeared at the Binance Blockchain Week Paris 2022 to share her interest in nonfungible tokens (NFTs).

During an exclusive interview with Cointelegraph, Sharapova mentioned that “she is exposing herself to this new world of crypto and Web3,” noting that the sector will help her better engage with her fans. Sharapova was also one of the strategic investors behind MoonPay’s Series A financing round, yet she mentioned that she aims to bridge her personal experiences to the digital world moving forward.

Maria Sharapova (right) with Cointelegraph senior reporter Rachel Wolfson (left) at Binance Blockchain Week Paris 2022. Source: Rachel Wolfson

Cointelegraph: What are you doing here today at Binance Blockchain Week Paris?

Maria Sharapova: I’m crypto curious and would like to figure out how to bridge the incredible physical experiences that I’ve been able to have with my fans over so many years. I’m now finding ways to include experiences in the digital world, so that’s what I’m most excited about. Also, as a female entrepreneur, I believe it’s important to pave the way for other women to enter Web3. Money is a topic that I feel we don’t speak enough about as women.

CT: Do you have plans to launch an NFT project?

MS: I’ve been looking at this space for several months now, as I’m someone who is more in favor of opportunities for the long haul. When I saw the opportunity to bridge physical with digital experiences, I knew I wanted it to be a long-term experience for myself. Storytelling is very important and it’s a huge component of Web3. I think stories will be told better for both parties when thinking about a project long-term.

Recent: The Caribbean is pioneering CBDCs with mixed results amid banking difficulties

CT: Do you think NFTs can help create better fan engagement?

MS: Absolutely. NFTs are about finding ways to communicate with the right communities interested in what I’m doing within a different type of space. For example, I was seen on a television screen every week playing tennis for so many years, yet I no longer have that platform on a daily basis because I retired a couple of years ago. The Web3 experience has given me access to my fans in entirely new ways. I feel like I’m more engaged with them, as opposed to them just being engaged by watching me compete.

CT: As a female entrepreneur and former athlete, do you have plans to get more women involved in Web3?

MS: I want to allow women to have a space where they experiment with Web3. For example, I was 17 when I won my first grand slam and social media was in no way part of that experience. It took years for me to get comfortable with social media over time. I think Web3 is also an area where one has to get out there in order to learn and grow from it. As I mentioned earlier, the conversation about money, finance, crypto and blockchain is a taboo conversation. People may feel that unless they know about these topics, they shouldn’t speak up. But I think this should be the other way around — you learn a lot more if you ask questions and get involved.

CT: Why did you decide to invest in MoonPay?

MS: I want to diversify my portfolio. In the beginning, my investments were around consumer goods. For example, I invested in the sunscreen brand Supergoop early on. I am now exposing myself to an entirely new category.

CT: What do you think are the biggest challenges associated with Web3 and how can we overcome these?

MS: I’d love to see the quality of Web3 experiences come through a bit more and improve, specifically in the digital space.

Recent: Are decentralized digital identities the future or just a niche use case?

CT: Any additional comments?

MS: I’m really interested in the NFT space because it bridges my passion for fashion, interior design and creating spaces that are unique to individuals and communities. I’ve become more interested in this space because it has more of a design perspective. It’s also an entirely new revenue stream that both artists and women are discovering.

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Bill Aims to Limit Crypto Mining in Kazakhstan Only to Registered Companies

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Bill Aims to Limit Crypto Mining in Kazakhstan Only to Registered Companies

Bill Aims to Limit Crypto Mining in Kazakhstan Only to Registered Companies

New legislation proposed in the parliament of Kazakhstan will allow only authorized miners to mint digital currency, if adopted. The draft has been designed to comprehensively regulate the industry and reduce what its sponsors label as uncontrolled consumption of electricity in the sector.

Lawmakers in Kazakhstan Submit Crypto Mining Law, Seek to Curb ‘Gray’ Mining

Members of the Mazhilis, the lower house of Kazakhstan’s parliament, have put forward a new bill introducing rules for the extraction of cryptocurrencies in the country. Under its provisions, only companies registered at the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) or non-resident entities that have agreements with licensed data centers, will be permitted to mine digital coins.

Kazakhstan became a magnet for crypto miners following China’s crackdown on the industry and the influx of mining businesses has caused a growing power deficit. AIFC, the Central Asian nation’s financial hub, is in the focus of government efforts to place the country’s growing crypto sector under oversight. Earlier this year, exchanges registered there were allowed to open accounts with local banks.

The current procedure for notifying authorities of mining activities is voluntary, the crypto news outlet Forklog noted in a report on the legislative attempt. The process is regulated by an order issued by the minister of digital development. Only a third of all mining companies operating in Kazakhstan have registered, Member of Parliament Ekaterina Smyshlyaeva revealed.

“The uncontrolled use of electricity by ‘gray’ miners poses a threat to the energy security of Kazakhstan,” the lawmaker insisted. Smyshlyaeva added that the current legislation does not regulate the mechanism for the sale of the mined cryptocurrency or the role of local financial service providers and the circulation of digital assets. “The procedure for their production and the establishment of property rights to them are regulated only at sub-legislative level,” she explained.

According to Kazakhstan’s State Revenue Committee, the contributions of crypto mining entities to the state budget reached $1.5 million in the first quarter of 2022. In July, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev signed into law a bill amending the country’s Tax Code to impose higher tax rates on crypto miners. The levies now depend on the amount and average price of electricity consumed for the minting of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Do you expect the new law to reduce the number of entities authorized to mine cryptocurrencies in Kazakhstan? Tell us in the comments section below.

Lubomir Tassev

Lubomir Tassev is a journalist from tech-savvy Eastern Europe who likes Hitchens’s quote: “Being a writer is what I am, rather than what I do.” Besides crypto, blockchain and fintech, international politics and economics are two other sources of inspiration.

Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a direct offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation or endorsement of any products, services, or companies. Bitcoin.com does not provide investment, tax, legal, or accounting advice. Neither the company nor the author is responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article.

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