philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Establishing privacy controls for virtual reality and immersive technology

0011a00000DlKjmAAFPrivacy laws, like the California Consumer Privacy Act and EU General Data Protection Regulation, may establish baseline privacy compliance expectations for companies building and using immersive technologies. In a thoughtful piece for Privacy Perspectives four years ago, Intel called for data protection rules to extend to virtual places and data objects, but what a suite of meaningful privacy rules looks like in XR is unclear.

I would recommend the following three actions.

First, improve transparency and begin making XR-specific data disclosures.

AR point clouds and other sensor-based mapping functionality are necessary to sell the illusion of virtual reality, but companies need to recognize that XR users will react to mapping functionality in much the same way that they have become apprehensive about location tracking.

Similarly, with growing regulatory interest in facial recognition and biometrics, XR companies should be much more open about the types of biometric data that are either collected or derived from these technologies.

Second, embrace transparency reporting and technical solutions to restrain data sharing. Facebook’s recent announcement that its Oculus headsets would be locally recording users’ experience in its Horizon VR app on a rolling basis highlights the surveillance potential of XR. Researchers at the University of Washington have highlighted how XR presents another tension point for the Fourth Amendment’s third-party doctrine, and it is not an exaggeration to say that metaverse enthusiasts are concerned immersive technology opens the door to a “total surveillance state.”

Third, shaping a new reality requires a commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Women often choose non-gendered avatars like robots to disguise themselves and avoid harassment.

...what is to stop digital makeup from becoming an individual’s permanent reality? These types of augmentations or filters may have spillover effects on users’ physical bodies and sense of self — "Snapchat dysmorphia" is a new term to describe the trend of people getting plastic surgery to look like the versions of themselves that appear in social media filters.

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