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Joseph Jerome of Common Sense Media.

TI Reality Check: VR’s Overlooked Privacy Problems

By  |  April 20, 2021 11:00 AM PDT
Photo: Joseph Jerome of Common Sense Media.

Tech companies and government regulators around the world are battling over how consumers’ personal information should be protected on the internet. But often overlooked in these debates are the privacy issues that accompany virtual and augmented reality technology. As we move to more sophisticated VR headsets and, eventually, to all-day AR glasses with sensors that capture information about users and their surroundings, there likely will be more pressure on Facebook, Apple and other companies to develop new privacy safeguards.

Washington, D.C., lawyer Joseph Jerome, director of platform accountability and state advocacy at Common Sense Media, is part of a small but vocal group of advocates for stronger policies and practices in AR and VR—what he calls a mixture of “self-regulation, regulation, soft law and trying to push Congress to get its act in gear.” Recently, Jerome published a white paper concerning protections for children using AR and VR.

I spoke with Jerome about concerns surrounding facial recognition, the state of AR/VR legislation and how leading VR products, in his view, fail to protect kids. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

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