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Privacy in the Metaverse

As virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and artificial intelligence (AI) advance to establish the metaverse, many privacy issues are surfacing. This blog post explores some major privacy compliance issues presented in the Metaverse and suggests privacy-preserving solutions for Metaverse products and services under development.

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The metaverse refers to the convergence of digital and physical spaces, allowing virtual experiences to be seamlessly integrated into real life. This includes hardware components, such as headsets, phones and tablets, as well as software such as augmented reality, virtual reality, AI and virtual avatars. With the advent of more advanced hardware components, organizations that grow and enter the metaverse will collect many different types of data in huge volumes. In addition to personal information, location data, and typical personal information expected of users, this material collects eye movements, gait patterns, heart rate, and other physio-behavioral information.

Biometric data in the metaverse

First, the collection and storage of data collected within the metaverse must comply with biometric laws. For example, the ACPL’s proposed definition of biometric information includes much of the information collected by headsets, such as eye movements and gait patterns, which increases legal risk for companies collecting this data. Other laws that apply specifically to biometric information, such as the Texas Capture or Use of Biometric Information Act and the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, impose strict requirements for the collection biometric data.

Companies that collect biometric information must do three things: first, create biometric privacy policies that provide notice of biometric collection and the purpose of collection. Providing this notice is a major part of biometric laws. Second, obtain affirmative consent from users to use this information. This not only meets regulatory requirements, but also increases customer confidence. Finally, implement reasonable security practices for the retention of biometric information to protect customer information and mitigate the risk of data breaches.

Data of miners in the metaverse

Data collectors in the metaverse should exercise caution when collecting information about children. For example, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) strengthens data protection for children under 13. The FTC signaled this year in a settlement with Weight Watchers that it takes COPPA violations seriously, imposing a $1.5 million fine and requiring them to delete personal information unlawfully collected from children under of 13 years and destroy any algorithm derived from the data. If a company is ordered to destroy algorithms from wrongly obtained child data, it could impact the company’s product line, revenue and customer base.

Companies that collect information about minors should include clear and complete descriptions of how minors’ data is used in their privacy statement. Using plain, easy-to-understand language is essential both for compliance and to assure parents that their children’s data will be safe. Additionally, companies must inform parents of information practices before obtaining data from children under 13 and obtain verifiable parental consent for the use of such data. There are many methods by which parental consent can be obtained, such as verification questions or using an online payment system. Parents also have the right to revoke their consent to the use of data and to delete their children’s data. If you process data from children under the age of 13, maintaining specific data subject request processes for this type of access, revocation and deletion will prove useful.

Other Ways to Mitigate Privacy Risks

In addition to the specific concerns above, organizations developing for the metaverse need to be proactive about privacy. They should prioritize privacy-by-design principles from the earliest stages to increase customer trust and stay abreast of privacy laws and regulations. Privacy by design principles focus on creating algorithms and data flows that, by default, aim for data minimization, privacy protection, and user control over data flows.

Second, companies must implement and continuously improve their data retention policies. Regulators are signaling that data minimization will be an important part of upcoming privacy regulations. For example, the US Privacy and Data Protection Bill specifically includes a provision that companies “shall not collect, process or transfer” data unless the collection is “limited to what is reasonably necessary and proportionate” to provide products or services or deliver communication “reasonably anticipated” by the user. Organizations must determine what types of information are reasonably necessary (and what types are not) to provide their products and services to their customers.

Third, companies must be transparent about their data collection practices. Many lawsuits for unfair or deceptive business practices have focused on the lack of transparency in the use of data between a service provider and its customers. Taking steps to educate users about their privacy choices – for example, by creating an in-game privacy tutorial – and making information about data collection, retention and sharing easily accessible and understandable will demonstrate a commitment to confidentiality.

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*** This is a syndicated blog from the Security Bloggers Network of "Ask Aleda" Blog – Aleada Consulting written by Alya Gennaro. Read the original post at: https://www.aleada.co/ask-aleada-blog/privacy-in-metaverse

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