Oculus Rift to Franken: We need the data we collect from users, and we keep it safe


Al Franken told Oculus Rift he had questions about the data the virtual reality headset collects.

The company's response? Basically, we know what we're doing and we've got it covered.

Oculus – which makes the virtual reality headset Rift – responded this week to questions posed by the U.S. Senator last month about the company's privacy policy.

In the letter sent to the CEO of Oculus VR, Franken called virtual reality "exciting," but noted it's "important to understand the extent to which Oculus may be collecting Americans' personal information, including sensitive location data, and sharing that information with third parties."

The Rift is worn on a user's head and can track movement of users, their location and nearby sound.

Franken wanted clarifications about what types of data the headset collected from users, and how that data was then being stored and shared with companies such as Facebook (which owns Oculus).

Oculus' response

Oculus said in a response letter released by Franken Thursday (you can read it in full here) that data collection of users' movements is "a necessary tool to deliver a safe, comfortable and seamless VR experience"

Oculus continued saying it also collects physical dimensions to do things like calibrate the distance between someone's eyes and the visuals to help improve clarity; or to determine whether or not a player is sitting or standing.

Franken also said he was concerned about aggregated data, even if it's stripped of a user's identity, getting sold to other companies.

"We share data as necessary to provide our services and enhance the availability of relevant VR products for people," Oculus said. "For example, we might provide developers with aggregate statistics about the percentage of users who stand or sit while they play a game, so they can develop future experiences to suit the mobility of their audience and the amount of space they will use in VR."

As for the safety of that data, Oculus said it's relying on Facebook's data centers, as well as their team of security experts, to keep all the information secure.

Franken said he appreciated the ""detailed response" from Oculus, adding he'll "continue working with the company to ensure Oculus users have greater clarity about the company’s current practices and are provided necessary updates about any future uses of their personal information."

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