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Standards in XR: The Reality of Privacy
As Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (XR) become more pervasive the urgent need for clarity and transparency around standards in XR becomes clear.
According to some industry analysts, there are three key elements of the metaverse. These elements might not get as much focus or attention as the metaverse itself but they do deserve attention.
☑️ Presence - the sense of being ‘there’ when in a virtual environment.
☑️ Interoperability - the ability to move seamlessly from one virtual environment/world to the next bringing digital assets and avatars.
☑️ Standardization - guidelines or a rulebook for the best way to do something. (Well, we have standards for Food Safety and Health & Safety so why not the metaverse?)
But when we look at standards in XR it becomes apparent that they are embryonic, especially when compared to the pace of current technological development and adoption.
But there are organizations that are playing a key role in driving standards in virtual reality and augmented reality(XR) and there is now an increased urgency to their work.
This includes the Bipartisan Policy Center and the XR Association’s, XR Initiative, the Open Metaverse Interoperability Group, which is looking at metaverse standardization, and the XR Safety Initiative (XRSI) which looks more specifically at safety standards in XR.
A Privacy Framework for XR
The XRSI is a not-for-profit that ‘promotes privacy, security, ethics and looks to develop standards around application security for Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality (VR/AR/MR)’.
Working in partnership with national governing bodies, universities, and businesses in late 2020 XRSI released a medical, privacy, and safety framework.
The Privacy framework version 1.0 has is described as “a globally accessible baseline rulebook” and the first step to bringing a global privacy framework for XR.
Importantly this includes looking to an expanded definition of personal information in light of the potential of tracking and capturing biometrical data in ways not previously available.
Privacy by design - and default?
One of the most important focus areas of safety in XR is privacy.
We all like when the technology we use is convenient and intuitive. But sometimes the promise of convenience can mean the loss of privacy for the user.
With XR the question arises of how government decision-makers and policymakers can consider how existing or proposed data protection laws protect users’ rights. For example, do XR developers ensure that sensitive personal data is encrypted in transit and at rest? Who owns the data and where is it processed and stored?
In the framework, XRSI looks to Ann Cavoukian’s “Seven Privacy by Design” principles to guide this topic. These principles are recognized as a core part of the European Union GDPR regulations.
The framework looks to privacy by design encapsulating seven key elements:
01.Preventative, not Remedial
02. Privacy as the Default
03. Privacy Embedded into Design
04. Full Functionality
05. End-to-End Security—Lifecycle Protection
06. Visibility and Transparency
07. Respect for User Privacy
Privacy in XR is an area we are going to read and hear a lot more about. If you’d like to know more about this topic there are some great resources out there:
Participate in XR Safety Week (6-10 Dec 2021) with coverage on topics ranging from child safety, diversity and inclusion, media XR and digital human rights.
Thinking Ahead About XR: Privacy and Security in an Immersive World
VR/AR: Privacy & Autonomy Considerations in Emerging, Immersive Digital Worlds
XR Security, Privacy, Safety, and Ethics Considerations in Higher Education
Assessing AR/VR providers? Consider security
If you’re in the midst of assessing VR/AR platforms and product providers for 2022 consider asking these four security questions.
Want to know more about Snobal’s security approach on the VR/AR platform for enterprise and education? Reach out.
In case you missed it
With everything digital by default in organisations is it time to get rid of the IT dept? This article on the WSJ thinks so and outlines how an IT department is preventing companies from being innovative, agile, customer-focused, and digitally transformed. Read more>
Ultraleap bags investment to accelerate hand tracking: a technology company focusing on VR/AR hand-tracking and haptics, has announced that it has completed a GBP £60 million (USD $82 million) investment to “accelerate the transition to the primary interface – your hands – because there are no physical controllers, buttons or touchscreens in anyone’s vision of the metaverse.” Read more>
Top Performers in all sectors are increasingly aggressive in tech investment: The pandemic had sped up the adoption of digital technologies by several years, with research by McKinsey & Co showing that top economic performers across all sectors are already ahead taken more actions than peers such as cementing technology partnerships, increasing investment and R&D. Read more.
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