Control Over Your Personal Data and Systems in Metaverse
We all are familiar with the term "Devil is in the details". It is only natural for people to be skeptical about a new thing. We are no different. There is no denying, that the concept of a realized and immersive metaverse is truly infatuating. But what about our virtual personal security there? How will we keep our sensitive information safe? How do I control the systems to suit my needs? If you have these questions you are in the right place. Let's dive into the topic of Data Security and Controlling Systems when we are interacting with Metaverse.
Why User Data is Important?
Before we get into the data security concern let's talk about what is happening in real-time. From a business to education everything is dependent on data. Do you want to learn something? You need a knowledge base. Do you want to sell something? You need data set to find you the customers. Data is considered to be one of the most valuable assets in today's society. Because of this data businesses worldwide know to whom, when and where to market a particular product. This data research gives them the most effective conversion rate possible. It is pointless to try selling a Lamborghini to a homeless person. Similarly, trying to sell toy handcuffs to the police will serve no purpose. Businesses are actively collecting data to be the most effective. The big data market is already huge and is expected to grow even at a faster rate soon. Per Statista,
"The global big data market is forecasted to grow to 103 billion U.S. dollars by 2027, more than double its expected market size in 2018. With a share of 45 percent, the software segment would become the large big data market segment by 2027."
As there is a high demand for user data in the market, many individuals and businesses are illegally collecting data and selling it to the highest bidder. Because of this many are subjected to financial and health issues. We are already familiar with the obvious internet scams like "Nigerian Prince". But did you know, that your health insurance premium might go up because someone stole your medical data and sold it to the insurance company? Data can be stolen from the governments as well whom you trust with your most personal details. Statista says, governments as well whom you trust with your most personal details. Statista says,
"One of the largest reported data leaks as of January 2020 was the early 2018 security breach of India's national ID database Aadhaar, with over 1.1 billion records lost. This included biometric information such as iris and fingerprint scans which could be used to open bank accounts and receive financial aid, among other government services."
We are still miles away from creating a fully immersive metaverse experience. Just think, how data-centric the future will be when today's society is so data-driven.
Data, Privacy and Safety in Metaverse
People today are very cautious about their data and rightfully so. People should be careful about posting or sharing personal details over the internet, especially the older generation. Way too many unnecessary and unwanted incidents have already occurred because of illegal data collection and privacy breaches. We don't need it anymore.
Data is like a very sharp knife. You can use it to chop your vegetables or you may decide to slit someone's throat with it. Only in the right hands, data can be used for the betterment of our society. According to the study done by Statista,
"As of 2015, 25 percent of the global data required security but was not protected. That number was projected to increase to 45 percent in 2025."
45% is quite a high number when our security is at stake. We need to raise awareness among internet users to be more aware of the data they are posting on a daily basis. The law so far is only playing a game of "catch" because of the rate of advancements in technology. In a perfect world, we would not need to concern ourselves with our data wheatear we are online or inside Metaverse. But, that is not the reality. Because of the malicious practices of a few, the whole world is skeptical about their privacy and data online. It is very clear from the survey done by Statista, where they claimed,
"Overall, over 90 percent of global online users had at least one significant concern about data privacy. A November to December 2019 survey revealed that 47 percent of respondents were worried about their personal information would be exposed in a data breach and compromised by cyber criminals. An additional 40 percent of worldwide respondents stated discomfort about sensitive personal information being sold to third parties and used in decision-making processes without their consent. Only eight percent of respondents stated that they did not have any concerns about data privacy."
Saying all these, when we have the technology to create a fully functional metaverse, the scenario can be very different. 30 years ago, we knew near to nothing about data or privacy issues with data. Though we are slow to catch on, we are definitely making progress. People today are much more proactive in regards to their rights to privacy and access to data. Transparency from businesses is now demanded by the consumers. If a business wants to be sustainable in the long run, it must abide by what is expected of them from the customers. Regardless of the law in place, progressive brands are noticeably trying to be more transparent while following ethical guidelines. This is truly a welcoming sight. If businesses continue to collaborate with the governing body while keeping consumers' interests in mind, we can realistically expect a safe environment when metaverse rolls out.
Facebook and Meta
Facebook just announced their version of Metaverse. The version will be called Meta. In the founder's letter published on 28th October 2021, Mark Zuckerberg claimed their version of metaverse will be clean, safe, convenient and a great overall experience. He also declared that their priority is going to be "Meta" rather than Facebook and other corresponding companies like Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, etc. With Meta people will be able to play virtual games, go shopping, get virtual collectibles, attend virtual concerts, hang out with each other, virtually attend work meetings and many more. Zuckerberg plans to spend over $10 billion this year, to build a functional metaverse and hire over 10,000 new employees to make this a reality.
This is a piece of great news for the people waiting for an immersive metaverse to become a reality. But this is also a very big concern for a lot more. Facebook has a lot of allegations against them, in regards to illegal data collection. There are already cases about whistleblowers inside Facebook and many employees have left the company claiming unethical practices are happening inside the company. Gaining positive public opinion might be a challenge for the team Zuckerberg. Some are skeptical about the move of announcing such an ambitious project in the middle of a treading series of scandals. Even if Facebook manages to be the first to reach an immersive metaverse, the privacy and safety concern will remain the same. We can expect an unforeseen level of scrutiny from the governing bodies, especially in the case of Facebook.
Expected Public Policy about Metaverse
We all are excited to know more about how the policies that are likely to influence the metaverse. The exact policy is very hard to predict and only time will tell precisely what factors are going to be the keys behind the policymaking. Thankfully, the recent press releases from tech companies and "The Augmented and Virtual Reality Policy Conference" shed some light on the topic. Oftentimes, it can be difficult to get the attention of the governments and inform them adequately.
"As new technologies enter the marketplace, one challenge is informing and educating members of Congress about these cutting-edge technology developments, as well as the benefits and concerns that come with them."
Thankfully, governments across the globe are starting to take incentives to create policies for VR/AR technologies and ultimately the metaverse. Based on the analysis we can safely assume 4 types of possibilities to take priority in terms of policy creation.
I. Virtual departments inside Metaverse: Saying, Metaverse is capable of disrupting all the norms today, is not an understatement. Governments are sure to consider this while the progressive ones are sure to create a virtual department/existence inside the metaverse. The governments are likely going to retain an administrative authority inside the metaverses. The United Arab Emirates has already created a virtual Ministry of Possibilities and more are sure to create similar platforms.
II. The massive use of AI for detection: In today's world, it is near impossible to get efficient results without the use of AI. Millions of risk factors are primarily detected by AIs for us to make an informed decision. Be it may tackling online scams or terrorism threats, the use of AI for detection contributed massively. We can expect dedicated AI agents of governments to ensure security inside the metaverse. Singapore's "Center for Strategic Futures" indicates a similar viewpoint.
III. Global acceptance of Blockchains and NFTs: Cryptocurrency became very popular in recent years. The key selling point of the technology is safety, security and independence from all governments. Many governments are yet to recognize and adopt blockchain technology but the concept of metaverse may very well change that. NFTs similarly will be very important to properly identify the ownerships of virtual properties. We can expect an attempt from the governments to monetize Blockchain technologies and NFTs.
IV. Priority on data governance and privacy: Many experts have already raised their concerns about the seriousness of data handling protocols and privacy maintenance. Metaverse will require very intimate and personal data for being able to function properly. These data can be easily misused. AR/VR technologies are already requiring information like users' eye movements and body language tracking. This is just the tip of the iceberg as you will be entrusting Metaverse with information like brain signals. If this type of data gets into the wrong hands, it will be worse than giving terrorists the nuclear codes. On the "The Augmented and Virtual Reality Policy Conference", Raul Carvajal says,
"There's a massive responsibility to keep these technologies safe and ensure that the public has visibility over how their data is used and managed."
Given the gravity of the situation, you are sure to see some serious intervention from governments in terms of Cyber Security, Data handling policy, Human Rights integrations, technology-centric privacy law and many more.
As we reach the end of our discussions today, it is time for us to reach a verdict about privacy and ease of use inside metaverse. Whether we like it or not, metaverse has a strong possibility to become the next version of the internet. It is clear that we neither possess the technology nor the policy for an immersive metaverse yet. But major tech companies are investing and ready to invest a greater amount to make it a reality. Progressive brands are also making their moves to have a strong presence in the virtual world when it is finally here. It is just a matter of time before we reach the destination called Metaverse. Many issues like data protection, cyber security, efficient monitoring system are not yet properly addressed. But some governments are taking incentives to ensure safety inside the virtual worlds. The experts of the field are also proactively raising their concerns about security issues. They are trying to make the metaverse a safe place as it is getting built block by block. The possibility of a realized metaverse is endless. To put it in perspective, physically disabled personals can get their lost limbs and motor skills back inside an immersive metaverse. As long as the developers follow the ethical code for sustainability the result will be beautiful.