The idea is that if I am accused of any wrongdoing, I have an audit trail to prove I did it all correctly. It is commonly accepted that if it's recorded on the crime-reporting system, then it happened, because virtual information is always true. In other words, our system provides a virtual Arse-Cover for use in all situations. (If only my arse were virtual too, I would be happy.)
Sadly, at present, all this virtual stuff relates to real life crimes and criminals in the real world. But I anticipate an age when crime and justice is enacted virtually, with no need for anyone to actually rob or assault anyone at all. Earlier this month I read that Dutch police have arrested a teenager for stealing furniture from the Habbo Hotel.
This burglary isn't real. But it can still be used to show how we are reducing crime and disorder.
In case you are unaware, the Habbo Hotel in fact exists only online and is inhabited by virtual guests. The contents of the rooms, however, are bought with real money, hence the theft. It will not be long before we can expect to see online criminal damages in these worlds, embezzlement of Sims, assault on the Habbo residents and maybe even virtual sexual offences. The great news is that we will be able to successfully prosecute everybody by merely seizing and analysing their hard drives to prove incontrovertible evidence that they did it. The not-so-great news is that we will be sending out the message that people who use real money to buy non-existent goods should be taken seriously.
Also, we may come up against the defence that the virtual character's artificial intelligence had taken over and in fact the hacker/controller had no control whatsoever. That would be an interesting case law...
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