Unpacking the Privacy Implications of Extended Reality

Daniel Berrick, JD, is a Policy Counsel and Jameson Spivack is Senior Policy Analyst, Immersive Technologies at the Future of Privacy Forum. Shutterstock It wasn’t long ago that the “metaverse” was the seeming buzzword for the year. Although the hype cycle has moved on to generative AI and the uses of ChatGPT, major companies, universities – even fashion brands – continue to invest in immersive projects and platforms. But what does that mean for the average consumer?  What people call the “metaverse” today is actually a collection of technologies, including but not limited to extended reality (XR)—an umbrella term for virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR) tools. XR provides new ways for people of all ages to engage with content, not only for gaming, but also for education, health, productivity, and socializing. While these applications have big potential to change the way that individuals go about their daily lives, before people make big investments in personal XR devices it is important for them to understand what data these devices and applications collect, how they use this data, and what it all means for privacy. In addition to this clarity and transparency, there is a strong case for implementing regulatory safeguards to ensure privacy protections for everyone in the US. The Future of Privacy Forum’s recently published infographic identifies what and how data is collected, where it is used, and the risks it may raise. XR relies on—and even requires—large volumes and varieties of data that are…Unpacking the Privacy Implications of Extended Reality