The medical professionals at the VR Privacy summit has a lot of interesting insights into how they navigate issues around informed consent in medical research through Institutional Review Boards, and perhaps how privacy policies for companies need a similar independent agency that advocates on behalf of consumer privacy. I had a chance to talk to UCSF’s Adam Gazzalley, Stanford’s Walter Greenleaf, and the National Institutes of Health’s Susan Persky about what the medical profession can teach consumer VR technologies for how to navigate privacy issues.
The medical profession in the United States is a specific context that has HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) to protect medical information as private. What does it mean for consumer technology to be able to gather a lot of this biometric data that would normally be protected as medical information, but it’s not switching into a new consumer context that may have private legal implications through the third-party doctrine.
We talk about all of the amazing health and healing applications for virtual reality technologies, but also some of the potential risks for making this data available for different contexts. The overwhelming take-away that I have from this conversations is that the potential benefits could far outweigh the potential risks, and that it’s worth exploring how to create private and safe contexts to use virtual reality technologies to their full potential, but that there are many open questions for how to find a balance between these risks and benefits.
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