The Risks of Spatial Data in the Metaverse

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    Summary: The increasing use of spatial data in the metaverse raises privacy, surveillance, and security concerns. Spatial mapping, which understands and analyzes the physical environment through sensors, can reveal information and behavior of individuals. Knowing more about your surroundings opens the door to potential harm from businesses, governments, or malicious actors. Furthermore, the lack of transparency and control over spatial data by technology companies poses further risks. While Meta and other companies claim to prioritize trust, inclusivity, and privacy, it remains unclear how they will address these challenges. Privacy laws may require access to users’ spatial data, but companies do not offer this option. To protect privacy and maintain control over personal space, mechanisms to exclude mixed reality from certain environments are essential. Companies can learn from past lessons about respecting boundaries and take steps to ensure privacy and reduce risk. However, relying solely on voluntary actions may not be enough, and protecting metaverse privacy requires legislation and user-friendly access to device-level information.

    Spatial mapping, including sensors that analyze the physical environment, can reveal personal information and behavior.
    Technology companies need to be aware of the risks and communicate their efforts to reduce them.
    Spatial data raises privacy, surveillance, and security concerns.
    Companies must provide users with access to their mapping data.
    Mechanisms should be able to exclude mixed reality from certain environments.
    Protecting privacy in the metaverse requires user-friendly access to legal and device-level information.

    Source: Meta Connect conference, AR headset developer Magic Leap, Apple, Niantic, and other tech companies


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