Senator Al Franken is requesting that Oculus VR explain its controversial Rift privacy policy

emteq faceteq facial sensing platform vr oculus rift review roundup
There’s been a little bit of a stink surrounding the new Oculus Rift VR headset. The device launched last month, and with it came a new privacy policy telling owners that Oculus VR is very capable of tracking their physical movements, their mobile device’s precise location, and gathering information via pixels when using the Rift’s “Services.”

The privacy policy details were amplified by reports arriving last week that the software used to run the Oculus Rift on a PC stays active in the background. The software reportedly generates a process with full system permissions that’s always on, with the main purpose to detect when the headset is activated and placed on the user’s face, and to immediately launch Oculus Home. However, the software also supposedly frequently sends updates to servers owned by Oculus VR’s parent company, Facebook.

“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,” Oculus VR said in an official statement to UploadVR. “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.”

The response also states that Oculus VR may use the collected information to improve its services and make everything work properly. That includes checking the device’s stability and addressing technical issues “to improve the overall experience.”  The company says that it created the privacy policy to make users aware about how it receives and collects data, and how that data is used. There was no argument made about the privacy policy’s actual contents.

The controversy surrounding the Oculus Rift has now gotten Minnesota Senator Al Franken involved. He sent a letter to Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe on Thursday addressing the privacy policy issue. Specifically, he’s requesting information about how the company collects, stores, and shares the personal data of Rift users. He also wants to know how third parties handle the information as well.

“I believe Americans have a fundamental right to privacy, and that right includes an individual s access to information about what data are being collected about them, how the data are being treated, and with whom the data are being shared,” the Senator writes. “As virtual reality technology evolves, I ask that you provide more information on Rift and how Oculus is addressing issues of privacy and security.”

On the location detection front, the Senator wants to know if Oculus VR shares this information to third parties, and if this information is actually necessary to collect to provide services. As for tracking physical movements, Senator Franken wants to know if the collection of this information is necessary, the purpose of collecting this information, and if it’s shared with third parties such as the “related companies” described in the privacy policy.

“I appreciate that Oculus’ privacy policy provides detailed information about what data are collected, when they are collected, and with which companies they are being shared,” the Senator adds. “Consumers must be able to make informed decisions about whether and with whom they share such sensitive information, and they must be assured that, when the information is shared, it will receive the utmost protection. However, questions remain regarding Oculus’ data collection of certain types of information and Oculus’ relationships with third parties.”

Oculus VR has until May 13, 2016 to answer the questions, so stay tuned.


Camera records real-life scenes to design virtual worlds using a single device

Creating virtual reality worlds may get a bit easier in 2019 -- the Axis is a camera module that records a 180-degree depth map, allowing designers to reconstruct the scene for virtual or augmented reality.

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.

Xbox One X vs. PS4 Pro: Which console is more powerful?

Far from cooling down, the console wars are only getting more intense. We compare Microsoft's Xbox One X to Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro to help you decide which premium console is right for you.

Take a trip to a new virtual world with one of these awesome HTC Vive games

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.

Android vs. iOS: Which smartphone platform is the best?

If you’re trying to choose a new phone and you’re not sure about the merits and pitfalls of the leading smartphone operating systems, then come on in for a detailed breakdown as we pit Android vs. iOS in various categories.

HTC brings two new headsets, a VR browser, and ‘Netflix for VR’ to CES 2019

HTC Vive made several new announcements to CES 2019, including two new headsets, a new subscription service, and a new user interface that completely transforms how applications are launched.
Product Review

HTC puts eye-tracking tech in Vive Pro Eye to make next-gen VR hands-free

With the announcement of integrated eye tracking for the Vive Pro Eye, hands-free VR, less demanding high-quality experiences, and intuitive software, are all on the table.

The Vive Pro Eye uses Tobii eye-tracking technology to make VR more lifelike

HTC revealed the Vive Pro Eye with eye-tracking support at its CES 2019 press conference on January 7. We now know that Tobii will be the company responsible for integrating the technology.

Oculus’ Quest is the headset that will make me (and you) a VR believer

Without excessive wires or complicated setup, and a price point that makes sense for tech that just isn't there yet, Oculus' upcoming standalone headset, the Quest, could bring VR mainstream.

Dive headfirst into the best experiences available now on the Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift brought back virtual reality and put a modern twist to it. Grab your Touch Controllers, put on your VR headset, and jump into the fun with some of the best Oculus Rift games available now.

The best VR headsets at CES 2019 could bring the technology to the mainstream

While there weren't a ton of new VR headset on display at CES 2019, the ones we saw led us to believe that VR could have a real moment soon, both from a gaming and business standpoint.

These are the coolest virtual and augmented reality gadgets from CES 2019

CES 2019 had plenty of VR and AR gadgets on display, including headsets that completely change how you experience virtual reality, and some that don't even require a PC or a phone to run.

These shoes let me stroll through ‘Skyrim,’ and I desperately want to go back

After being funded in just two hours on Kickstarter back in October 2018, Cybershoes has earned itself a place among the coolest VR walking and running tech. At CES 2019, we got to try them out and they live up to the hype.

The Teslasuit could turn Black Mirror’s terrifying ‘Playtest’ into a reality

We spoke with Teslasuit co-founder Dimitri Mikhalchuk about VR gaming at CES 2019. With all its features, the future of the Teslasuit and virtual reality look bright. And it also sounds a bit like a Black Mirror episode.