The highly anticipated VR headset hasn't been on the market long, but there's an issue that has some consumers, and even government officials, concerned about the Oculus Rift. You probably guessed the issue surrounds privacy and the extensive, not-so-secret way that it's collecting your personal data.
The privacy concerns came about as various customers and media outlets took notice of the rather lengthy Terms and Services that pop up once you strap yourself into the Rift headset.
The fine print basically says that not only would Oculus have the rights to obtain any data it collects on your location and your physical movements, but it also reserves the right to share that data with Facebook, in addition to other data it collects as you play games and use additional services.
Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, who's long been an advocate for consumer rights and privacy with a history of pointedly asking tech giants about their intentions, has taken Oculus to task. In a letter to Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe, made public on Thursday, Franken asked for the company to be more specific as to what they intend to do with the data they'll collect, and whether that information would be sold off to other companies. Facebook isn't explicitly named in the letter, but it is implied in the section regarding the sharing of information with "related companies." Facebook acquired Oculus in 2014 for $2 billion.
Before you get all up in arms, it is worth noting that Oculus has responded to the initial outcry... sort of. In an email response to Upload VR, the company stated that they are working with Facebook to help run certain services, but that they aren't sharing information with their parent company at the moment.
But if you read between the lines, it seems as if advertising in conjunction with Facebook could be on the horizon. It may be another cloudy area that Oculus needs to navigate cautiously with a public that's rightfully sensitive about their privacy. Then again, with their mobile apps, Messenger, and other properties, are the VR games we buy and the way we move our heads really that much more intrusive?
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