Privacy in Virtual Reality, I spy on you with my little eye

Privacy and technology always go hand in hand like water and fire. The more convenience a service is, the more we use it and the more the service party, get to know about the user. The examples are legion and step by step the limits are stretched by a simple update of the conditions or adjustment of the settings. The legislation in Europe is changing with the new AVG, Algemene verordening gegevensbescherming (= General Data Protection Regulation GDPR).

GDPR-infographic

Source Image itgovernance.co.uk

Our smartphone is the gateway to the digital world and the channel for data and many media make news personal so we are living in filter bubbles made by algorithms. Our VRdeck.nl platform uses your phone, but only as a screen. Because we have a subscription model, we are not concerned with selling behavior or other products. So we keep our VR platform ad-free. Especially with the new privacy legislation, we get a lot of questions about this subject. In this blog post, I give examples of how we distribute our data and how VR adds a new dimension to following people. I also give tips on how to deal with this and explain how VRmaster deals with privacy sensitive information.

Privacy is not perfect

When I start using Linkedin in 2007, people looked at my and said. “A resume is something you only share with your future employer?”.

And sharing data what’s it’s all about. One tech company is not a tech company and all major digital players have several brands. This way you are often connected to a tech company via multiple platforms and services.

And in the overview above Amazon, Samsung en Alibaba are not included yet. Here are some notable facts about those parties:

  • Amazon group, with founder and richest man in the world Jeff Bezos, has its own Siri, hosting company AWS, payment service, e-reader such as the Kindle and a space company;Blue Origin.
  • Samsung holds 18.4% of the smartphone market. Tov Apple 19.2% and Huawei 10.2% (Source: Statista.com). The Samsung Gear VR works with Oculus OS from Facebook. Samsung provides screens for the iPhone. Samsung also makes buildings, boats, medical equipment and financial services such as its own payment service.
  • Alibaba group, of course, has Ali Express and owns 32% of the Sina Weibo shares, the Chinese Twitter with 392 million monthly active users. (Twitter ed cannot be used in China, because of The Chinese Great Firewall)

Privacy is death

We are online, all the time, via our Android (= Google) phone or iPhone, every step we take, every breath we take is recorded. It is a vicious circle that can not be realized. We determine the route with Google Maps, so Google knows where we are and where we are going. And to make it easy, Google maps hasGoogle maps de Tijdlijn functie (Timeline). So you can easily search back, where you were when.

I spy on you with my little eye

Not only do tech companies know where you are and what you do. A fingerprint or even face scan is used for unlocking, so they know exactly what you look like or even what you are feeling. Here, too, all major parties make investments and acquisitions, although Snapchat is still independent. Adding filters to your selfie is commonplace among the youth.

When the camera is on, the phone does not only know who is in the picture but also what is shown is recognized. Microsoft sells smart technologies such as image recognition. Image recognition can not only recognize objects, it can also recognize if something is not going well as shown in the video below. At Google, this is called Cloud Vision of just Vision at Apple’s place.

 

They already know your location, so companies have a real-time view of the world. That will only become more with self-driving cars that are actually rolling 3D scanners. Add the heart rate data from your Apple Watch or Samsung Galaxy Gear and it is possible to assess a remote situation, from different viewpoints.

Digital eavesdroppers

So they know where you are, what you see and how you feel through your smartwatch. Has everything been said about that? Or do they know everything that is being said ?! A virtual assistant must listen to you all the time, to know when a question is asked “HELLO GOOGLE”.

Yesterday I watched some YouTube with my son and he used voicecontrol to look for things (about trains). I did not teach him this, but he had found out for himself.

In addition to the virtual assistants,  smart speakers are emerging. Speakers that not only give sound but also listen to what you are saying. Amazon puts a penny here in the bag with their smart speaker Echo and virtuele assistente Alexa. Similar to the Homepod with Siri from Apple en Google Home en Google Assistant. All these eavesdroppers aim to help us, to buy new products, services and advertisements.

 

Amazon privacy statement

Of course, as a user you must give permission to a service, only who reads the terms of use or clicks quickly to install an app? Do you want to see how it is, read here a blog post about the access and permissions of Android en iPhone apps.

The revenue model of Facebook and Google is selling personalized advertisements. The more they learn about a user, the more targeted an advertisement can be placed and the more an advertiser has to pay.

If the product is free, you’re the product.

Virtual Reality I know what you are feeling

With Virtual Reality, measuring behavior goes a step further and that is something we are very aware of at VRMaster. That is precisely why we have chosen for our own technique that is independent. We also realize that the phone that is used and the required browser are from large parties. The Firefox browser is a good alternative, we see in our anonymous statistics that Chrome and Safari are much more popular. Want to browse in VR without being tracked, then choose the Mozilla Firefox browser.

VR requires VR glasses, Publication platform, VR content and business model. At VRmaster we have made a number of fundamental choices to make VR easy and affordable. And also widely applicable and safe.

Look at it from a different perspective

And VR is new to you so we want to create a great a big impact at reasonable costs. We don’t want you to buy a Porsche if you need to drive 4 people around a town. Of course a Porsche is great, driving on a racetrack but what’s your company about?

Virtual Reality goes a step further than using a smartphone for social or website visits. Because multiple sensors are used, more data can also be collected. If you as a company use the advertising model as the most important revenue model, it is not surprising that Google and Facebook are heavily investing in VR. Because measuring behavior can be much better with VR, because looking around is the normal thing to do. We at VRmaster use a freemium subscription model, without ads so we do collect data, but do not link this to people. If a user does, for training or research purposes, then the user is familiar with this. If this is not the case, let us know via hello@vrmaster.co.

With VRmaster we have written everything down as well as possible in our:

 

Small disclaimer; I have compiled this blog post as carefully as possible, but is not legal advice. Contact  Detlef La Grand for comments.

 

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