Hong Kong Police Introduce CyberDefender Unit to Tackle Metaverse Crime

Bad boys, bad boys…whatchya gonna do? Whatchya gonna do when they come for you…in the Metaverse?

Yes, you read that right, China is setting up a new cybersecurity unit attached to its regular police force, tasked with enforcing various crimes that take place in the Metaverse and other Web 3 projects. We’ll get into that, but perhaps the bigger story is China’s recent investment in the Metaverse.

Another major city in China, Zhengzhou City, which is the capital of Henan Province, has announced a strategic plan to support metaverse companies operating within its jurisdiction. This move is in line with China’s recent focus on developing and expanding the metaverse industry.

 The government intends to initiate a fund worth 10 billion yuan ($1.4 billion) to support the metaverse industry. Furthermore, Zhengzhou aims to collaborate with other government entities to enhance the fund’s magnitude to a massive 60 billion yuan ($8.48 billion) to assist metaverse-linked projects.

According to a report by Forkast News, metaverse companies are offered incentives by the government if they relocate their headquarters to the capital of Henan. The incentives include up to 200 million yuan ($28.34 million) of startup funding, rent subsidies, and cash rewards for listing on China’s main stock exchanges.

Despite some people dismissing the metaverse as a failed concept, China has set high goals for the industry. Zhengzhou aims to generate annual revenues of up to 200 billion yuan ($28.34 billion) from the metaverse by 2025.

And then, in true governmental fashion, Hong Kong Police announced a new ‘CyberDefender‘ unit to go after cybersecurity offenses. The new unit is being introduced as having education and prevention functions, but we shall see what that morphs into. One side of me thinks it’s a good idea to have some type of enforcement for cyber crimes, and the other side of me thinks it will be easy to abuse power. Hong Kong does seem pretty based, so hopefully the new unit will actually try to protect people from legitimate crimes.

The CyberDefender unit does have some significant numbers to back up its existence. In Q1 2023, Hong Kong reported 663 cases of virtual asset crime, resulting in a total loss of $570 million. This is a 75% increase from the same period in 2022. Assuming these numbers are correct and not fabricated, this would be an easy sell to the public.

The Chief Inspector of the Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau had this to say, “Police will continue to organize public education initiatives on different themes through the ‘CyberDefender Metaverse’ platform, raise the awareness among teenagers regarding the latest advancements in information technology, potential pitfalls, and the importance of preventing technology crimes.“ Again, I sincerely hope the new unit won’t experience mission creep and will stay committed to education, detection, and determent of significant crimes.

Final Thoughts

It’s clear that China is heavily investing in the metaverse and other Web 3 projects, as well as introducing new regulations to ensure their proper use. While there is always potential for abuse of power by the new CyberDefender unit, it could also be a positive step forward for both China and the world in keeping our digital spaces secure. Ultimately, only time will tell how effective these measures will be in keeping the Metaverse safe while still allowing people to explore its benefits.

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