“To the Verge” had an insightful conversation with Kristina Podnar, Executive Lead at Metaverse Reality Check (MRC) and Digital Policy Advisor at XR Safety Initiative (XRSI). She shared her outlooks on several strategies for establishing a secure environment for everyone in the metaverse. She also emphasized her views on digital security and policies that businesses should embrace.
About Metaverse Reality Check (MRC)
A worldwide monitoring body run by and for citizens, Metaverse Reality Check (MRC) is a nonprofit organization. The MRC is the first worldwide organization to empower individuals, advise regulators, assist governing bodies, and hold major technology companies accountable for building a secure metaverse for people and society.
Kristina shared that the Metaverse Reality Check (MRC) is a program part of the XR Safety Initiative (XRSI). “Our organization is considering the metaverse’s impending reality. As the metaverse develops, we must take proactive steps to address ownership, interoperability, inclusivity, advantages, and harms before we go on a course that will be impossible to turn around. In addition, we must have diverse voices.”
The organization completely abides by the XRSI transparency guidelines and does not accept any “pay to play” donations. Any individual or group taking part in the Metaverse Reality Check is obligated to support XRSI values:
- Be moral,
- Act impartially, and
- Adhere to the mission.
MRC aims to shift the narrative and ensure that Web 3.0 is open, interoperable, safe, and prosperous for everyone, not just a few. The organization has started its work by bringing together experts and conducting a roundtable focused on framing the important work that will take place to keep the metaverse a safe place for all.
Kristina also proclaimed that in the coming weeks, the organization would appoint global, bi-partisan, multidisciplinary experts and collaborate to begin the important work to shift the trajectory of the metaverse to ensure all voices are factored into the new reality not just those of the wealthiest and most powerful companies.
Significance Of Digital Policy
Digital policies, according to Kristina, aim to minimize risk while enhancing potential. Organizations must first decide how much risk they can tolerate. After that, they must create rules to accommodate that degree of risk tolerance.
Kristina discussed two contrasting approaches to digital policy. One is the Legal or regular trade of Digital policy, and the other is Opportunistic digital policy. Legal or regular trade of digital policies acts as barriers or regulations that forbid companies from doing what they like. “Digital policies create a framework to prevent breaking the barriers that lead to laws,” she says.
On the other hand, opportunistic policies are about how you create opportunities for the technology. “For instance, inclusivity may be one of the policies governing metaverse technology. Unfortunately, there is currently no law requiring inclusivity. There are many chances, though; if we design the metaverse to be open to everyone, it’ll also open the door to new opportunities,” she shares.
“Let’s consider an example of opportunistic digital policy. The nomad children from Africa are, by nature, nomads; they know what they do, so they keep migrating. Similarly, the people traveling as nomads in the metaverse can turn their migration into an opportunity by collaborating with the same educators and peers. This will help create a positive impact on people around the world.”
Digital policies, in Kristina’s opinion, are directives that constrain actions. However, they help build technologies, experiences, marketing, products, and sales in ways consistent with their values.
She shared that the digital policies serve as safety nets, allowing staff a great deal of latitude within a framework designed to reduce the likelihood of error. One illustration is a checklist that forbids content producers from posting a piece unless several requirements have been satisfied.
Another example might be a rule prohibiting Marketing from launching an international campaign before investigating and confirming that the campaign complies with all applicable regulatory standards.
Kristina’s Take On Challenges Faced While Planning A Digital Policy
While developing a good digital policy, Kristina encountered several obstacles. She enumerated a few of the usual obstacles the group faced. First, she mentioned that businesses just gave up on the notion of digital policies because it took too much effort. “People occasionally did not want to hear about the policy since, according to them, they had been working all day and had no time left.”
She also shared that the organization simply denied the policies by saying they were not interested in holistic policies. “Some organizations were not interested in digital policies because they thought of them as holistic policies. But, she adds, “Sometimes it doesn’t achieve their financial goals or wasn’t beneficial for them or their company.”
As a result, she strongly emphasizes discussing and raising awareness about digital policies at all levels, from developers, designers, and marketers to boards of directors and directorates, because digital policies are crucial for the organization’s future and the society in which it operates.
Essence Of Privacy In Digital Policy
Kristina exemplifies that privacy is a key element of the digital policy. But as time progresses, more sophisticated privacy components have emerged. We must recognize that privacy in digital policy is not what we have always thought it to be. Prior to the development of new technologies, maintaining your privacy involved giving out personal information like your name, image, phone number, etc.
With the historical meaning of privacy, Kristina shares, “If we consciously choose to create the space, there is always a place for privacy. Governments and companies have a history of acting quickly and utilizing technology to break things. It doesn’t have to continue just because they haven’t traditionally done in a way that respects citizens’ rights.”
She shared that we’re discussing a new type of privacy. We’re talking about groups and institutions that possess basic data that we might not wish to divulge. The idea of privacy refers to the information gathered, and the things said about us.
“But we never paid attention to issues like the ability of a reader to properly comprehend what they are reading. Can someone with cognitive capacity comprehend that? Therefore, organizations must consider this when developing digital policies.”
Challenge Of Privacy And Security In Immersive Technologies
Kristina shares that a foundation for privacy, cybersecurity, and safety is required as the world becomes more connected and immersive technologies are more widely used in business, government, and the consumer market.
She says, “We must take a proactive approach and address some fundamental design choices about the principles of how we want it to operate to avoid replicating or exacerbating what is broken about the Web today as we build the next version of the Internet/Web 3.0, also known as “The Metaverse.”
How Does Extended Reality (XR) Affect Digital Operations?
According to Kristina, Extended Reality (XR) technology may now collect countless amounts of biometric information, ranging from a user’s location and skin tone to their eye and hand movements at any given time. These technologies range from headsets to various wearables and associated sensors.
According to Kristina, Data ownership, confidentiality, and responsibility must be rectified since these are the most damaging aspects. In light of this, the XR Safety Initiative (XRSI) is researching with several research partners, including the MITRE organization, to develop a privacy and safety framework that establishes a foundational set of standards, principles, and best practices regulation-agnostic.
“It will be difficult to understand the IRL consequences of the metaverse until it is here, which may be 10 or 15 years from now, similar to the privacy issues. You’ll need to modify your comfort levels as more tech companies move toward creating equally immersive experiences so that you can take advantage of everything the new technology has to offer. same to how you did when you first started using the internet.”
Her Vision On Metaverse
According to Kristina, “Metaverse is a concept,” which is why you might be having difficulty visualizing what it will look like. However, the concept will eventually resemble a digital cosmos, blending various cutting-edge digital technologies to produce a 3D environment where people may engage.
She wants to contribute to the area while maintaining adequate security and privacy. “This area will be persistent, so think of it as an online world that combines real-world elements for a complete user experience, including locations, sounds, and ultimately temperature, smell, and feel,”
In the interaction with Kristina Podnar, we concluded that it is crucial to scrutinize the necessity for caution and attention before incorporating security measures into the metaverse and new technologies. Many special interest groups do not desire safeguards in the XR space due to the fear of losing power, reputation, and financial resources. However, organizations like MRC and XRSI emphasize building a secure and effective framework and taking action before it’s too late.
Kristina Podnar is the Executive Lead at Metaverse Reality Check (MRC) and Digital Policy Advisory at XR Safety Initiative (XRSI). She spent her 20+ years guiding organizations through complex digital operations and helping them climb the mountain of international laws and regulations, leverage their resources, navigate around cliffs, and survive the journey. Kristina works with global 1000 brands as well as small and medium businesses, government agencies, and non-profits to determine risks to free the organization to leverage digital fully.
She has worked with some of the most high-profile companies in the world. She has helped them see policies as opportunities to free the organization from uncertainty, risk and internal chaos. Her journey was shaped through a series of hands-on digital and consulting experiences, which allowed her to see the 360 degrees view of online challenges and why every organization should have digital policies.
Author: Jyoti Rai
Jyoti Rai is an enthusiastic writer who enjoys exploring new things. She is now working on writings about recent technical breakthroughs, particularly in the domains of Metaverse and future technologies. She may be found listening to music and reading poetry when she's not writing.