If or when the Internet transits to Metaverse (something Facebook is already working on), the amount of biometric data generated by users could be huge, requiring new categories of data protection. And if the interaction with the virtual world progresses beyond current biometrics toward more direct brain interfaces, this could present entirely new categories of metaverse biometrics, including brain waves. First of all; What is?
What is the metaverse?
A series of covers on the development of the Metaverse, including an interview with Mark Zuckerberg and New York Times research “Are We Living in the Multiverse Yet?” suggests that the concept currently has a moment.
The term “metaverse” was first used in Snow Crash, a 1992 science fiction novel by Neal Stephenson, according to The Verge, to describe the confluence of physical, virtual, and augmented realities in an online shared space.
There have been many attempts to create virtual places and worlds like Second Life, but Metaverse would link 3D virtual settings and spaces where a user (or avatar or resident) could move from one to another, even taking virtual possessions like now clothes or tools from one space to another.
Artificial intelligence could accelerate its development as the Internet of Things (IoT) provides more real-world infrastructure along with the massive server power it would need.
Now it seems that shared virtual sites are being adopted, especially in the gaming world. Massive online multiplayer games connect millions of players, although they typically only experience the virtual playing field in smaller groups, forming a “multiverse” together. With sufficient interoperability, game situations could see players acquire components in a game or world that might be compatible in other spaces.
Metaverse overshadows the current understanding of the World Wide Web by providing greater synchrony, according to “The Metaverse: The Evolution of a Universal Digital Platform,” a report by Norton Rose Fulbright. It will bring together a large number of people simultaneously in virtual environments.
People will be able to make transactions either by fiat currency, cryptocurrency, non-expendable tokens (NFT) or ways still unknown.
The current virtual reality interaction is achieved through headphones and gloves and sometimes other sensors throughout the body.
These could already accumulate data about the user beyond transmitting their movement in a game or a virtual meeting. Gait, eye movement, and physiological responses could be monitored.
Scanning faces or photos to create real-life-like virtual versions could present additional opportunities for biometric use and abuse.
Smartphone users may have already let their phone perform a 3D scan of their faces to create a Memoji of themselves, a personalized and animated emoji.
The behavior of users for marketing purposes could be monitored. While current Internet users offer information about their interests for what they search for online, in the metaverse, tracking could control what users turn their heads and even just their eyes.
According to the Norton Rose Fulbright report, this type of metaverse biometric data would classify a completely new category and could not be included in the existing marketing consent or in the GDPR categories.
Given the link between spaces of a number unknown to the metaverse, it is unclear how agreements on user data and biometrics can be shared or whether real-life biometric verification may be necessary for a user to move virtually from space to another.
The current understanding of biometrics could be overshadowed, of course, if interfaces move beyond external viewfinders and sensors. If technology moves toward implants that interact (more) directly with the brain, a completely new type of metaverse biometrics could be created with specific brain markers that provide user verification and authentication. The GDPR should be updated.
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