Addressing Data Privacy Concerns in the Metaverse with AI
Posted By : Arpita Pal | 30-Nov-2023
The metaverse has brought about a digital revolution in how progressive technologies can be utilized to construct immersive experiences that go beyond the definition of two-way communication. For an engaging experience in the digital realm, a multitude of different technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing, augmented reality and many more are brought together that form this unconventional medium where people can communicate, purchase and participate in events all across the globe through AR and VR based devices. However, to provide such an immersive experience, users can often become the scapegoat to unauthorized data collection and tracking activities without their knowledge which can lead to gross violations of privacy rights. This article aims to explore the privacy concerns that can impact people accessing the metaverse and what can be improved to ensure safety for them in the long run.
Privacy Concerns in Metaverse
1. Extensive Data Collection: To access the metaverse, people use devices to enter the virtual world where their own body movement is utilized to gauge movement within the constructed reality. Devices monitor and track movement to detect precise locations but store massive amounts of data to improve their performance. This data can include biometric data like the userâ€™s movement, environment, physical movement, physiological movement etc. often without the userâ€™s consent. This level of extensive data collection in the metaverse can lead to infringement of privacy rights for the users on behalf of improving usability and performance.
2. Accountability For Data Security: As loads of personal data are stored often without the userâ€™s knowledge, there is no guarantee stated by the metaverse developing company that their data will not be utilized with wrongful intention. Many users and regulating bodies are still new to the concept of the metaverse and are not fully aware of the degree of personal information will be stored while interacting with the metaverse. This data can be further shared with third-party companies for their own commercial use within or outside the metaverse, thus reducing the accountability of safely using the information by metaverse creators. Moreover, recent events have shown how smart devices for the metaverse can be prone to data breaches, thus, putting confidential and sensitive personal information at risk.
3. Digital Twins: Digital twins are the visual representation of physical objects, person or a process and is heavily utilized in the metaverse to construct virtual reality. To create a digital twin, sensitive data such as personal and asset information is utilized to resemble the actual object and without strict encryption and regulatory methods,it can be susceptible to unauthorized access, hacking and identity theft.
4. Spreading Biases: The metaverse employs AI algorithms that can be prone to the biases of the creators developing the technology. Such algorithms replicate the biases in their operations when it is executed threatening to magnify harmful stereotypes against certain groups. This increases the risk of harmful environments and discrimination against such groups that can multiply in the metaverse. To resolve this ethical issue, concentrated efforts on removing bias against specific groups or genders must be removed to practice responsible diversity and inclusion in the metaverse.
5. Transparency: AI algorithms are utilized to solve complex challenges for humans to make their jobs easier. However, in cases where stakes are very high, the absence of transparency in AIâ€™s decision-making process can make it hard to build trustworthiness among humans. With AIâ€™s role increasing in society and more decisions being made with AIâ€™s support, for humans to accept and trust the decisions, developers in the metaverse and in general should put in more effort in making the process more transparent and logical to follow.
6. Imitations and Deepfakes: Data collection of sensitive personal information such as biometrics, physical movements etc in the metaverse have given rise to the vulnerability of it being hacked and stolen for nefarious purposes. Rising cases of deepfakes and false identity make it highly unsafe for the user to provide their personal information while accessing the metaverse as the extent of which the data is collected is often unknown to them. This data can be further used to steal money or imitate a person to perform illegal activities without the knowledge of who is being imitated. Strong awareness and regulations are essential to stop innocent people from becoming victims to scams and catching criminals from performing such activities.
Best Practices To Protect Privacy In Metaverse Development
A. Respect the customer: Metaverse is constructed to resemble the world itself, and hence requires multitudes of data which can include personal, confidential, technical and other types of information to bring the concept into reality. As it heavily depends on the user to provide this data to create their virtual version, developers and companies should take users' rights and well-being into consideration and mutually respect each otherâ€™s boundaries when it comes to sharing data. This can include providing detailed awareness regarding their rights, regulations, potential threats and security breaches and providing robust security measures to counter potential online attacks to protect the interests of the consumer.
B. Ensure Transparency: To build credibility for the decision-making process conducted by AI, regulatory bodies and developers should work towards creating policies and measures that ensure that all the parties connected to using the metaverse-customers, guests and other people are informed and have easy access to privacy rights policy. Regulatory bodies should enforce strict regulations to companies developing metaverse technology to disclose all intentions and possible scenarios where and what data will be collected when a user accesses the metaverse. This can include information about personal, physical and financial data of the user about which the user should be informed about diligently.
C. Tokenization & Interoperability: Blockchain integration in the metaverse carries great potential to enhance secure data transfer by converting real-life assets into digital tokens and transferring them through different blockchain networks through interoperability. It can serve as a useful measure in deviating unauthorized access and online attacks while dealing with transactions and confidential information in the metaverse. In the future, when such integration will be more technologically and economically feasible, developers can build around this blockchain system to rule out security issues and strengthen the foundational pillars of the metaverse.
D. Focus on Privacy From the Development Stage: Focusing on the privacy and safety of users since the development stage can aid in easier integration of security measures and make sure that they actually perform in protecting the users through continuous testing and feedback. Developers can employ the latest progressive technologies in blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning models and more for potent analytical and efficient support that can handle heavy demand, automate privacy measures for real-time safety and security, and enhance the performance of the platforms for greater operational efficiency. Also, by providing more control over usersâ€™ data to users themselves, companies can collect useful information in a morally correct manner where users get to decide what data they are fine with sharing and companies can let users know how their data helps the platforms and where is utilized by what.
E. Strict Regulations For Privacy & Digital Security: Government bodies including all regulatory bodies can approach the security issue in the metaverse through a modular layer approach. The government can employ different tools and measures at varying levels of metaverse to provide security according to the degree of threat of privacy infringement at each level. As per the use cases, regulatory bodies can work with different departments and companies that can oversee that safety guidelines and policies are being followed at all levels. Along with regulatory bodies and metaverse-associated companies, users too can take extra initiative to maximize their knowledge and awareness of privacy rights, associated risks and threats of the platform, policy guidelines pertaining to security etc to guarantee safety from all spectrums.
F. Prioritize Diversity & Inclusivity: In current times, it is imperative for companies to provide a balanced representation of gender and communities to maintain the spirit of diversity and inclusion for equality. Developers should actively concentrate of removing biases from AI algorithms that can produce results for people that are free from stereotypes and misconceptions. They must work with data sets of larger representations their algorithm models can train and test to remove any accuracies and narrow approaches for resolving complex issues and make certain that the results are well in the boundaries of ethical, social and political guidelines.
Metaverse is revolutionizing how we interact with each other by providing a virtual world and integrating with invigorating features and functionalities that allow users to transcend beyond the limitations of communicating in traditional methods. However, when users enter the metaverse world, they are also making themselves vulnerable as extensive data collection and monitoring are performed to keep the platform relevant and engaging. As users are central to the experience of the metaverse, it is of utmost importance to safeguard their privacy and interests to keep them out of harmâ€™s way and avoid misuse of information. By being transparent about what data is being collected and shared, creating strong privacy regulations and continuously developing and enhancing security measures in built to protect against threats and harms, the metaverse can become a safe space for users and developers to have meaningful interactions and lead the way with innovation in virtual and augmented reality. If you too are looking to develop your augmented or virtual reality-based platforms for your business, but are not sure where to start, weâ€™d love to be of help. Oodles Technologies is an innovation-driven company that offers tech-based solutions for the unique challenges of a company. You can contact us here, and our experts will get back to you within 24 hours.