Metaverse Data Protection and Privacy: Big Tech's Next Dilemma?

Metaverse Data Protection and Privacy: Big Tech's Next Dilemma?

How to protect yourself digitally in the Metaverse

When a survey asked whether more than 6,000 users had ever interacted with AI, almost a third (34%) answered yes. In fact, 84% of users had come across an AI interface, meaning 50% couldn't tell whether they were interacting with AI or with a human service provider.

Now, what happens if AI requests your personal data in order to provide you with a service? Who is responsible for this information? Is your consent applied indiscriminately to artificial intelligence and human service providers?

These are some of the thorny questions we would have to answer if the vision of a sophisticated and convergent metaverse became a reality.

Data protection and privacy are important concerns of Metaverso companies, developers and users. For users, this could mean an invasion of their privacy, possible identity theft, and other types of fraud.

Companies that disregard data protection and personal rights in the Metaverse could face heavy long-term sentences, such as the current $ 5 billion fine on Facebook.

What does the metaverse mean for data protection?
The metaverse can be described as a three-dimensional virtual space where users can have social interactions and also interact with their virtual environment using advanced human-computer interface (HCI) technology.

If privacy is an issue in today's 2D world of Web 2.0, then the embedded internet of the metaverse adds a more complex dimension to the challenge. Consumers will use all new technologies to interact with the metaverse, such as haptic gloves activated for electromyography.

The processes of collecting, storing and using data by these devices have not yet been fully documented. Also, user anonymity in the metaverse could become a bigger issue.

Hyper-realistic avatars such as Codex avatars that Facebook is developing may allow users to hide their identities or even show children as adults. How would this affect the consent in the metaverse?

Put simply, the metaverse is blurring the lines between the real and the virtual to an unprecedented degree. We are still recovering from the effects of the Internet on the protection of personal rights and the next corner is knocking on the doors.

Impact on companies operating in the metaverse
There are six factors businesses should consider when preparing to operate in the Metaverse.

As new types of data come in, the consent mechanisms need to be improved
HCI devices could help collect a wide variety of data, including biometric information from the user.

Users need to be educated about the privacy implications and the consent mechanisms need to be simple enough for the user to participate in a meaningful way.

In addition, consent needs to be updated regularly without accepting open-ended permission, and these mechanisms need to be updated with each new type of data.

Users need to be informed when they interact with AI.
The metaverse is populated by human and artificial intelligence units, and over time it could be difficult to tell them apart.

For full transparency, AI bots (i.e. digital people) should be labeled so that users always know who they are sharing their data with.

In addition, these artificial intelligence robots are based on human models that voluntarily share their biometric data; The rights and consent rules for this exchange must be clearly described.

Companies have to regulate themselves, at least initially

Currently, data protection laws are not uniform around the world. The EU GDPR, for example, lays down specific rules for EU citizens.

Different US states have different laws, like the CCPA in California, and the UK has its own version of the GDPR along with additional data protection and electronic communications (PECR) regulations.

By now, Metavers can become a completely separate region, operating both universally and independently.
This requires strict self-control.

Transparent monetization can address concerns about data misuse

One of the main reasons for data abuse is that most of the internet is viewed as a free service.

In fact, services like Google and Facebook are funded by advertising revenue collected through ad targeting based on user data. By compensating users for their data collection, some of these issues can be avoided in Metaverse.

For example, in privacy-conscious browsers like Brave, cookies are disabled by default and users can collect rewards or tokens if they want to see targeted advertising.
Virtual reality worlds must be specially designed for data security

Since the metaverse will host huge amounts of user data, the technology needs to be airtight. Developers must take care to keep vulnerabilities to an absolute minimum and apply secure coding principles.

Data breaches and accidental disclosure can be costly to businesses in the long run, and regular testing and updates are required to fix them.

Data protection and usability could be in conflict

Ultimately, there will be situations where companies will have to choose between data protection and usability or ease of use. For example, interoperability becomes much faster if you have a single set of terms and conditions that govern both platforms.

But ideally, in the interests of the user, the consent should be renewed at each data re-entry point, even if this means an additional level of authentication.

How is Facebook working on data protection and privacy in the Metaverse?

The first step in ensuring data protection and privacy in the Metaverse is to develop data protection-sensitive technologies from scratch.

Facebook has taken several steps in this direction. It recently turned off its facial recognition system, which identifies every time a user shows up on tagged photos and other locations.

It is also strengthening its age verification procedures to ensure age-appropriate interactions on its platforms. The company even announced a Tool for Transferring Your Information (TYI), which is GDPR compliant and allows users to remove information from Facebook at any time.

Finally, the company is working on Privacy Enhancement Technologies (PET) to use cryptography and statistical techniques to limit the use of personal information for advertisements.

All of this together will go a long way towards building a secure, privacy-sensitive and regulated metaverse for users.

Other companies looking to build or work in their own metaverse must adhere to similar principles at this point, even if the metaverse is more than a decade away.



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