ventures into the unchartered waters of virtual reality criminal law, presenting both a novel multidisciplinary insight into a technological medium that many believe will shape future human society and an unexpected challenge to an inherently flawed cyber intrusion legal doctrine.
Thirty years ago, lawmakers in countries all over the world enacted new and specialized computer misuse legislation, acting on the notion that existing criminal law is insufficient to the task of prosecuting and resolving computer intrusion cases. Unfortunately, the resulting unauthorized access regime has created significant problems. One is the potential criminalization of everyday technological behavior, brought about by an overly extensive normative scope; another is chronic under-enforcement; and yet another is a wider chilling effect on creativity and digital freedoms.
Lately, interest in virtual reality, a fairly old concept, has reawakened. Unlike other information technologies, virtual reality is built to deliver a psychological effect believably simulating the physical world; it possesses three-dimensional spatial characteristics, infuses users with real legal expectations, and mirrors human social institutions and values. Many actions within virtual reality, lawful and criminal, are subjectively and conceptually closer to physical acts than to user actions in cyberspace. Subsequently, considering some forms of virtual reality intrusion may warrant reverting back to the ancient common law doctrines of burglary and trespass as an alternative to the severely flawed modern computer misuse laws governing unauthorized access to computers and data.