By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The metaverse, shared virtual worlds accessible via the Internet, is the next digital market to attract regulatory scrutiny, EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said on Thursday.
The metaverse has come into sharper focus since Facebook changed its name to Meta Platforms two years ago to reflect its bet on the new sector as the successor to the mobile internet.
That move has in turn triggered concerns about Meta’s possible dominance. Alphabet’s Google and Microsoft are also active in generative artificial intelligence that the industry sees as the new bright spot.
“It’s already time for us to start asking what healthy competition would look like in the metaverse,” Vestager said a conference organised by Keystone Strategy.
Vestager asked whether it would change the equation when there are competing digital realities and language AI models like ChatGPT.
“Do we need to do more on something new? And obviously we have started that work,” she said.
She said regulatory scrutiny of digital markets has been escalating worldwide in the last three years.
“And there’s a much wider political debate that digital markets need careful attention. I think all jurisdictions are moving forward in one form or another,” Vestager said.
She said some antitrust enforcers were more advanced than others.
“We are moving at different speeds. We will not get the same legal framework. And maybe that is not a bad thing. Because that will allow us to hone our toolkits in the process of mutual learning,” Vestager said.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee. Editing by Jane Merriman)