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Oculus Rift sends information to Facebook, members of US Congress intervenes

One of the members of US Congress Senator Al Franken is formally asking Oculus and its parent company Facebook to come clear about privacy concerns involving the Oculus Rift. The senator sits on the Senate Privacy and Technology subcommittee.

The issue started when it was discovered that Oculus Rift has an always-on full system permission called ‘OVRServer_x64.exe‘ where it sends data from the VR headsets to Facebook servers. It specifically detects when the Rift is turned on and worn by its user. It was also discovered that the VR headset’s privacy policy that the information is automatically collected when the user use their services which include when, where and how the user interacts via the headset.

There’s more. The information collects info about the games, content, apps and any type of experience you get from the VR headset. It collects information about your PC and the peripherals connected to it, browser, operating system, IP address, GPS, user and nearby WiFi networks, cell towers and even the physical movements by the user when wearing the VR headset itself. Facebook also declared that it plans to use this message to send you promo messages and relevant content.

While most users may not be concerned seeing that such information is usually collected by many sites are services for a very long time- including Facebook. Al Franken decided to probe into the matter to understand the extent of such collection, including the personal information and sensitive location data. The primary concern is how much of this information will be shared with the 3rd parties.

The letter can be read from here.

Oculus did give an official statement at a much earlier date:

Users and content developers own all the content and IP they create using Oculus services. We are not taking ownership.  Our terms of service give Oculus a license to user created content so we can enable a full suite of current and future products and services on our platform, like sharing a piece of VR content with a friend. People continue to own the rights to the content and can do whatever they like with it outside of our platform.  This is very clear in our terms:  “Unless otherwise agreed to, we do not claim any ownership rights in or to your user content.” 

At this time, there are not many places where people can upload their content to the Oculus platform.  As we add more features, we’re working to understand the best ways to give people more control over how they share content in VR.

We want to create the absolute best VR experience for people, and to do that, we need to understand how our products are being used and we’re thinking about privacy every step of the way.  The Oculus privacy policy was drafted so we could be very clear with the people who use our services about the ways we receive or collect information, and how we may use it.  For example, one thing we may do is use information to improve our services and to make sure everything is working properly — such as checking device stability and addressing technical issues to improve the overall experience.

Lastly,  Facebook owns Oculus and helps run some Oculus services, such as elements of our infrastructure, but we’re not sharing information with Facebook at this time. We don’t have advertising yet and Facebook is not using Oculus data for advertising – though these are things we may consider in the future.

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