A new report from Common Sense Media evaluates the privacy policies of the most popular VR headsets on the market

The analysis reveals that the top seven VR devices fail to meet the minimum recommended privacy and security requirements to keep children safe.

San FranciscoAnd the 15 November 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Today, Common Sense Media released a new report that evaluates the privacy policies of the most popular virtual reality headsets on the market. The report, “Virtual Reality Privacy: Our Future in the Metaverse and Beyond,” examines the privacy trends and practices of seven of the best VR devices and finds that none of them meet the minimum recommended privacy and security requirements to keep children safe.

The report analyzed the HP Reverb G2 privacy policies and practices, MetaQuest 2, HTC Vive Cosmos Elite, Pimax Vision 5 kilo Super, PlayStation VR, Microsoft HoloLens 2, and Valve Index, and found that:

  1. Users are tracked from the moment they are placed on any of these VR devices.
  2. Sensitive data collected in virtual reality is shared with third parties for profit.
  3. Privacy policies were unclear or sensitive data was said to be used for targeted advertising, third-party marketing and tracking purposes.
  4. None of these devices use privacy by design.
  5. They all served third-party ads to users.

In addition, the headphones lack special protections for children under the age of 13 who use these devices. Among the privacy practices evaluated in the report, more than half (57%) of devices had no parental controls, and less than a third had any security settings at all.

“Virtual reality companies, like any other tech company targeting teens, should use a privacy-by-design approach to create age-appropriate and safe content and experiences and adhere to the strongest privacy protections possible. Anything less is unacceptable because the stakes are high” James B Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media. “We need to ensure that there are safe spaces in virtual reality for children and teens to communicate, play and learn without the risk of experiencing the various forms of harassment and privacy risks that are currently prevalent in the metaverse and beyond.”

According to the report, VR devices collect far more data than mobile apps and websites — including body position, eye gaze, pupil dilation, gestures, facial expressions, and even subtle differences in skin color. A user’s body movements are tracked in VR more than 100 times per second, which means that spending 30 minutes or more in a VR simulation can collect more than two million unique data points.

“The bottom line is that every VR device we tested exploits users’ sensitive data for profit, so we can’t recommend any of these devices to parents as safe for children,” says Gerard Kelly, Director of Privacy Program at Common Sense. “However, some of the devices we reviewed had options available to turn off some of the most problematic security settings and data collection. But this puts the onus on a parent or caregiver to navigate complex, hard-to-find privacy and security options in order to keep children safe.”

MetaQuest 2, It is arguably the most popular virtual reality glasses on the market (Meta holds nearly 90% of the VR headset market share), has the third lowest privacy rating (55% warning), just ahead of Valve (50%) and Primax Vision 5 kilo (30%). Meta’s privacy policy states that it does not sell consumer data but engages in everything else, including third-party marketing, targeted advertising, third-party tracking, tracking of online users, and creating advertising profiles based on the user data it collects. Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 has the highest privacy rating (75%), but like the other six headsets evaluated, they all fail to meet the recommended minimum privacy and security requirements to keep children safe.

Data was collected and analyzed by Common Sense Privacy Program, a team of lawyers and experts in privacy, law, computer science, education, academia and public policy. The research team rated the products on a 100-point scale across 155 unique rating questions.

The full report can be downloaded over here.

About common sense media
Common Sense is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in the 21st century. Learn more through commonsensemedia.org.

About the Common Sense Privacy Program
The Common Sense privacy program evaluates popular apps and services for children, protects the privacy of children and students, and supports a safer digital future for children everywhere. Our assessments help parents and educators understand the complex policies and terminology of common tools used in homes and classrooms across the country.

The Common Sense Privacy Program is supported by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation.

Media contact
Lorena TabuasMedia Relations Manager
[email protected]
(786) 521-4215

Lisa Cohen
[email protected]
(310) 395-2544

SOURCE Common Sense Media

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