FPF Report Outlines Opportunities to Mitigate the Privacy Risks of AR & VR Technologies
A new report from the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF), Augmented Reality + Virtual Reality: Privacy & Autonomy Considerations in Emerging, Immersive Digital Worlds, provides recommendations to address the privacy risks of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies. The vast amount of sensitive personal information collected by AR and VR technologies creates serious risks to consumers that could undermine the adoption of these platforms and limit their utility.
“XR technologies are rapidly being adopted by consumers and increasingly being used for work and for education. It’s essential that guidelines are set to ensure privacy and safety while business models are being established,” said FPF CEO Jules Polonetsky.
The report considers current and future use cases for XR technology, and provides recommendations for how platforms, manufacturers, developers, experience providers, researchers, and policymakers should implement XR responsibly, including:
- Policymakers should carefully consider how existing or proposed data protection laws can provide consumers with meaningful rights and companies with clear obligations regarding XR data;
- Hardware makers should consider how XR data collection, use, and sharing can be performed in ways that are transparent to users, bystanders, and other stakeholders;
- XR developers should consider the extent to which sensitive personal data can be processed locally and kept on-device;
- XR developers should ensure that sensitive personal data is encrypted in transit and at rest;
- Platforms and XR experience providers should implement rules about virtual identity and property that mitigate, rather than increase, online harassment, digital vandalism, and fraud;
- Platforms and XR experience providers should establish clear guidelines that mitigate physical risks to XR users and bystanders;
- Researchers should obtain informed consent prior to conducting research via XR technologies and consider seeking review by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) or Ethical Review Board (ERB) if consent is impractical;
- Platforms and XR experience providers should provide a wide-range of customizable avatar features that reflect the broader community, encouraging representation and inclusion; and
- Platforms and XR experience providers should consult with the larger community of stakeholders including, industry experts, advocates, policymakers, XR users, and non-XR users, and integrate community feedback into decisions about software and hardware design and data collection, use, and sharing.
“XR technologies provide substantial benefits to individuals and society, with existing and potential future applications across education, gaming, architectural design, healthcare, gaming, and much more,” said FPF Policy Counsel and paper author Jeremy Greenberg. “XR technology systems often rely on biometric identifiers and measurements, real-time location tracking, and precise maps of the physical world. The collection of such sensitive personal information creates privacy risks that must be considered by stakeholders across the XR landscape in order to ensure this immersive technology is implemented responsibly.”
The release of the report kicks off the start of FPF’s XR Week of activities, happening from April 19thto 23rd. XR Week will explore key elements of the report in greater detail, including the differences between various immersive technologies, their use cases, important privacy and ethical questions surrounding XR technologies, compliance challenges associated with XR technologies, and how XR technology will continue to evolve.
FPF’s featured XR Week event, AR + VR: Privacy & Autonomy Considerations for Immersive Digital Worlds will include a conversation between FPF Policy Counsel Jeremy Greenberg and Facebook Reality Labs Director of Policy James Hairston, followed by a panel discussion with Magic Leap Senior Vice President Ana Lang, Common Sense Media Director of Platform Accountability and State Advocacy Joe Jerome, and behavioral scientist Jessica Outlaw. Register here.
To register and learn more about FPF’s other XR Week events, read this blog post.