Scientists predict unprecedented user privacy issues for the Metaverse

Scientists predict unprecedented user privacy issues for the Metaverse

Scientists from the University of California at Berkeley (USA) and the Munich Institute of Technology (Germany) have published the results research on the subject of user privacy in the Metaverse – the worlds of virtual and augmented reality. The results were disappointing.

    Image Source: Eugene Capon /

Image Source: Eugene Capon /

The authors based their study on the escape room game intended for virtual reality; 30 volunteers took part in the project. As a result, scientists have identified more than 25 attributes of personally identifiable information that would-be attackers and platform operators can collect from users of the metaverse, although this information would be difficult or impossible to obtain via mobile applications and the web.

The researchers listed the types of data that could become a hot commodity for operators of the metaverse for the foreseeable future:

  • Geotelemetry – user’s height, arm length, interpupillary distance, room size;
  • technical characteristics of the client device – refresh rates of display and polling of sensors, field of view of the device, central and graphic processors;
  • Network data – channel width, client location;
  • Behavioral Characteristics – Speech, handshake, voice, reaction speed, focus of vision, color perception, cognitive traits, general physical form.

From all this data, other personal parameters can be determined with a high level of accuracy: gender, financial situation, nationality, age and physical limitations.

According to the authors of the study, being able to obtain this data explains why Meta in particular* is so calm about the recent catastrophic loss of his Metaverse division, Reality Labs, which specializes in metaverse technologies – losing $10.2 billion on sales of $2.3 billion last year alone.

Scientists noted that some of the data from this set could theoretically be obtained via mobile phones, but the metaverse turns out to be a single source of comprehensive data – sometimes during the study there were situations when all this information could be collected in one thing Protocol. In fact, the Metaverse operators have enough power to de-anonymize any user. With existing mobile applications and even more websites, all of this is simply not possible.

With their research, the authors of the project wanted to raise public awareness of the issue of privacy in the metaverse and encourage their colleagues to develop protective measures. One of them that they have already suggested is the MetaGuard plugin for the Unity game engine. It adds information noise to the data collected by AR/VR helmets, which prevents user identification but does not affect operation. This is a kind of analogue of the incognito mode in the browser, which can be turned on and off as needed.

* It is included in the list of public associations and religious organizations for which the court made a final decision, activities on the grounds of Federal Law No. 114-FZ of July 25, 2002 “On Combating Extremist Activity”.

About the author

Robbie Elmers

Robbie Elmers is a staff writer for Tech News Space, covering software, applications and services.

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