Protecting privacy in the metaverse

Montreal, June 11, 2024 - Heralded as the web's latest revolution, the metaverse should enable us to evolve and interact immersively, just like in real life. This new digital universe does, however, raise privacy issues, mainly with regard to lightning-fast data collection, according to research published today by Option consommateurs.

Travel to the other side of the world, simulate surgery, meet work colleagues without leaving the house: the promises of the metaverse are beyond imagination. Although it is currently an emerging phenomenon whose adoption is mainly in the video game sector, its technical advances could lead to adoption beyond gaming communities.

This digital environment is made possible by virtual reality technology, and raises particular concern about the potential processing of biometric and sensitive data for commercial purposes.

"In the case of eye tracking, for example, what the user looks at, the route they take and how long something holds their attention could enable us to deduce their preferences and interests to offer them targeted advertising or make a purchase," says Sara Eve Levac, lawyer and research co-author.

The report raises questions about the clarity of information provided to consumers by companies participating in the metaverse, the validity of consent and respect for children's right to privacy.

"Children are an audience requiring special protection, which is why we recommend prohibiting the use of children's data for commercial purposes, such as profiling and targeted advertising, in order to offer them better protection in the digital environment and avoid certain problems such as gaming addiction," insists Me Levac.

Based on international standards, the report also recommends amending the Federal Act to define biometric data, and to limit or prohibit the use of such data for commercial purposes. It also proposes that information be provided in plain language for consumers, and asks companies to provide an exhaustive list of the conditions of use and privacy policies applying to their products.

The search In the Matrix - Privacy in the metaverse was funded by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC); the opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the OPC.


About Option consommateurs

Option consommateurs is a non-profit association whose mission is to defend the rights and interests of consumers. It focuses on issues related to personal finance, business practices, financial services, privacy, energy, debt and access to justice.



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