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Oculus Research

Transparency At The Heart Of Additions, As Oculus VR Updates Terms And Conditions/Privacy Policy

In preparation for new EU data regulations, Oculus might just be looking to ward off Facebook-style data concerns.

With all the news and discussion regarding Facebook, the activities of Cambridge Analytica and data privacy in general it was an inevitability that eyes – particularly those with an interest in the immersive technology sector – would turn to Oculus VR.

Oculus from Facebook artMany have wondered just what changes might be in store for the Facebook owned virtual reality (VR) company, how they would (and if they would even need to) react, considering all that has been revealed over at their parent organisation and the action they themselves have taken.  Given the collection of data over on Facebook, a number of those within the VR community have voiced concerns as to what data Oculus VR/Facebook might be accruing and how it could, theoretically, be used.

Whilst Oculus VR has not directly addressed the source of these concerns by name, it has seemingly acknowledged the them during updates of both its Terms of Service and its Privacy Policy.  These changes were planned, as they come into force to make sure both are reflective of the forthcoming European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – which begins next month. However, in some of the language used, particularly in its tie in blog, (“we’re taking the opportunity to provide new tools and information”) it certainly suggests the company are moving to address any problems or concerns that also relate to the situation in the U.S.

Changes are three-fold; Firstly there’s the introduction of a new section in the Oculus account “My Privacy Centre”. As the name implies, it’s a new location where you’ll be able to learn just what your current privacy settings are and make changes. You can also view that collected about you by Oculus VR and download a copy of what exactly they have/know.

Secondly comes the changes to the Terms of Service and the Privacy Policy. A summary of the terms of service changes, which are active now, are given by the company as follows:

– We’ve given you more information about the services we provide, including how we use data to deliver them to you.

– We’ve provided more information about the code of conduct that we expect all Oculus users to follow to help everyone have a safe and fun experience in virtual reality.

– We’ve provided information about how we use content that you share on Oculus across the Facebook Company Products.

Oculus Terms of Service and Privacy Policy Update - April 2018
The update notice visible when you login to the Oculus website.

Interestingly in section one relating to ‘Oculus Products and Services’ it refers to “virtual, augmented and mixed-reality (collectively, “XR”)” which would be something of a rubber stamp of acceptance of XR by Oculus VR as the collective shorthand term for all immersive technology.  This is subsequently reiterated in the updated Privacy Policy which goes into detail about what information is taken and how it is used.

“Our updated Privacy Policy [now live] includes more real-world examples and details about how we use data to personalize your experience on the Oculus platform and deliver social features like Oculus Rooms, as well as how we share data with the Facebook Companies.” Explains the company in its blog. “You’ll also see more explanation about how we work with developers to help them build safe communities and contribute to a healthy and diverse VR ecosystem. As we look toward the future and the exciting work being done in research, we’re expanding our Terms of Service beyond VR to include AR products.”

The third aspect revolves around the addition of a Code of Conduct to the terms. For those concerned the blog also includes an FAQ where the company answers many questions regarding what data is shared (in both directions) between Oculus VR and Facebook, the removal of information on deleting an Oculus account and Oculus VR’s policy regarding what data can be identified as belong to an individual or not. In terms of third party use it mentions how such shared data goes into its PC and Mobile Hardware Reports that it revealed last month and its Guardian System.

No doubt there will still be many questions to come, both as things develop with Facebook’s situation and immersive technology itself develops over time. Oculus VR, however acknowledge that whatever happens it is on them to make sure people are in-the-know.

“We are building the future of VR and AR, and it’s our responsibility to tell people how we use their information for our products and for their VR experience. Today’s updates are about providing more transparency.

VRFocus will bring further developments very soon.


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