What is a virtual person? What is it used for? What is its added value?
Virtual persons sometimes describe avatars and new forms of identities in online games. They also appear in other contexts; some authors use them in the legal domain. Within FIDIS, the concept of virtual person has been extended in order to better describe and understand new forms of identities in the Information Society in relation to rights, duties, obligations and responsibilities.
Virtual persons, as other virtual entities, exist in the virtual world, the collection of all (abstract) entities, which are or have been the product of the mind or imagination. The virtual world — not to be confused with the digital world — allows a unified description of many identity-related concepts that are usually defined separately without taking into consideration their similarities: avatars, pseudonyms, categories, profiles, legal persons, etc.
The legal system has a long experience of using abstract entities to define rules, categories, etc., in order to associate legal rights, obligations, and responsibilities to persons that can be considered instances of these abstract entities in specific situations. The model developed within FIDIS intentionally uses a similar construction.
In this chapter, after having explained the model, we apply it to pseudonyms. Then we explore the concept of virtual persons from a legal perspective. Eventually, we introduce trust in the light of virtual persons.