Virtual Worlds, Real Risks and Challenges


1st XR Data Classification Roundtable Report
XR Safety Week 2021 – December 10th, 2021

Today, most people understand that internet technologies generate data with each click, like, and share. Humans have relied on data collection and sharing to record and propagate historical facts, ideas, and opinions across timelines. In the past few decades, the creation, processing, and sharing of data have become so common that most people have stopped paying attention to the amount of data they give away every day.

People relinquish their data without realizing the risks or consequences. While this is not new, the difference today is we are moving towards an era of constant reality capture, especially with the increased adoption of immersive technologies and a strong push to build the next iteration of the Internet, also known as the Metaverse.

Immersive technologies, including Extended Reality (XR) and Internet of Things (IoT), bring a new set of privacy, cybersecurity, and safety concerns, at a time when we have not fully addressed the challenges of the Internet era. XR technologies currently being used to create virtual worlds introduce real-world risks to humans, amplified as we evolve towards the Metaverse. Kavya Pearlman, founder and CEO of the XR Safety Initiative (XRSI), recognized the coming wave of technology challenges in 2018 and started research into the massive data collection associated with virtual worlds and the real risks that come with them. Most privacy laws and data protection principles of our times are going to be inadequate because they do not fully address the risks related to the processing of XR data, giving way to undermining human rights.

XRSI commenced its mission in early 2019 and immediately started researching and investigating these matters launching an XR Data Classification Public Working Group to pursue the following goals:

  • Establish a “standards-based” workflow to manage access and use of XR data and computing resources.
  • Develop a standard approach to communicating any data/resource.
  • Establish reporting to and coordination with funding agencies.
  • Develop “community-based” contracts to streamline the acquisition of services.
  • Encourage commercial providers to research the emerging Metaverse and cyberspace consistent with community-generated requirements and compliant with relevant policies.
  • Analyze stewardship, policy-based, regulatory, contractual, and financial obligations related to the access to and use of XR technologies;

The XR Data Classification Roundtable is a series of gatherings hosted by XRSI to address the issues that stem from the massive collection of data. This report signifies that while the Metaverse may be an interconnected network of Virtual Worlds, the risks associated with it are very real and could lead to human rights violations if not addressed proactively.