#834 XR Ethics: Eye Tracking Privacy Risks + HoloLens History with Avi Bar-Zeev

Avi Bar-Zeev has been involved with immersive technologies for over 27 years, including working on the very first prototypes of Microsoft’s HoloLens back in 2010. He’s mostly been working on secret projects for the last 11 years, and so I got was able to catch up with him at AWE to talk about his journey into the XR space. We also talked a bit about his article that he wrote for Vice called “The Eyes Are the Prize: Eye-Tracking Technology Is Advertising’s Holy Grail.”

Bar-Zeev lays out the following eight ethical principles to help navigate the privacy concerns around eye tracking and other biometric data:

  • Eye-tracking data and derived metadata is considered both health and biometric data and must be protected as such.
  • Raw eye data and related camera image streams should neither be stored nor transmitted.
  • Derivatives of biometric data, if retained, must be encrypted on-device and never transmitted without informed consent.
  • Apps may only receive eye-gaze data, if at all, when a user is looking directly at the app, and must verifiably follow these same rules.
  • Behavioral models exist solely for the benefit of the users they represent.
  • EULAs, TOS, and pop-up agreements don’t provide informed consent.
  • Don’t promise anonymity in place of real security, especially if anonymity can later be reversed.
  • Users must be given an easy way to trace “why” any content was shown to them, which would expose to sunlight any such targeting and manipulation.


This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.

Music: Fatality
Photo: Gordon Wrigley: “Eye”