The wide range of technologies that support the Metaverse, including Blockchain, 5G, AI, VR, and AR, raise concerns about data security and privacy.
The big-tech economy is experiencing an ongoing increase in the hype surrounding the Metaverse. By 2026, 25% of the world’s population will log onto the Metaverse at least once a day, whether to shop, work, go to events, or just socialize, predicts Gartner.
However, the wide range of technologies that support the Metaverse, including Blockchain, 5G, AI, VR, and AR, all raise concerns about data security and privacy. According to Gartner IT Roadmap for Cybersecurity, “75% of all organizations will restructure risk and security governance for digital transformation due to the proliferation of attack surfaces and vulnerabilities, insider activity, and imploding cybersecurity threats.”
The privacy of personal data has been addressed by recent legislation. For instance, the “right to be forgotten” granted by the GDPR mandates that businesses be ready to delete customer information at the request of the customer. Additionally, it requires private companies to get individuals’ permission before storing their data. The market for helping businesses comply is expanding, and European regulators have begun to take stricter enforcement measures.
Organizations aiming for leadership in the Metaverse must give data privacy and security a higher priority than ever as regulations get stricter.
Web2 to Web3: The evolution of digital privacy
Although digital privacy on websites is now largely regulated, the Metaverse is still very young and lacks any privacy laws. The most popular Metaverse will be those where users can engage in authentic experiences that aren’t currently possible in the physical world. Another emerging trend in the Metaverse is online shopping, but once more, no one has quite figured out how to provide more than a basic Web2 site.
Due to the fact that 20 minutes of virtual reality (VR) use generates roughly two million unique data elements, the threat to privacy in Web3 and the Metaverse is greater than it is in Web2. These include, among many other things, how people breathe, and walk, think, move, and stare. To gain insight, the algorithms map the user’s body language. Consent is almost impossible to obtain in the Metaverse because data collection is ongoing and involuntary.
The privacy implications of these technologies are woefully unaddressed by current data protection frameworks. A machine learning algorithm could successfully identify a user with 95% accuracy, according to research, given just five minutes of VR data that had been scrubbed of all personally identifiable information. Most biometrics laws don’t cover this kind of information.
The Metaverse remains in the “Wild West”
Data security and sexual harassment are two issues with regard to privacy in the Metaverse. The fact that the Metaverse spans the globe and is subject to multiple data privacy laws is one reason there aren’t any Metaverse-specific privacy laws yet. The GDPR, which appears to be the standard for data privacy, is still one of the most considerate laws regarding online privacy. It’s a moving target though because if the developers are storing data on the Blockchain, they must take the user’s traceability into account.
When people connect their wallets to the Metaverse, security becomes a problem. Nearly all of the Metaverse projects are currently accessible to everyone. Right now, it’s a virtual “free-for-all.” Age- and location-based restrictions will inevitably be implemented, just like in the gaming industry (either voluntarily by the makers, or by various governments).
In a Web3 world, the nature of the data being collected may also affect privacy, security, and safety. Some of the data collection techniques are feared to be highly intrusive. “Biometric psychography” will be possible with these data. This is defined as “the collection and use of biological data to reveal specifics about a user’s preferences, likes, and dislikes.” Not just a user’s outward behavior is recorded in VR experiences. The subconscious emotional responses of individuals to particular circumstances are also captured by algorithms through features like pupil dilation or changes in facial expression.
The Metaverse undoubtedly holds great promise for a more interconnected, immersive world. However, as they develop their Metaverse, businesses looking to stake their claim in this emerging virtual space must prioritize data security and privacy.