Last month, UploadVR published a story about potential privacy concerns resulting from Oculus’ tracking and monitoring of user’s habits while using the Oculus Rift headset. Installation of the device creates a process with full system permissions named “OVRServer_x64.exe,” which raised a lot of questions for people. After we wrote that story, six days later, Senator Al Franken issued a letter to Oculus posing several pointed questions about what they were doing with the information.
Now, Oculus has officially responded to the Senator with a detailed letter of their own, which was provided to UploadVR by Oculus directly.
In the letter, Oculus General Counsel, Jordan McCollum, provides intricate responses to each of the Senator’s concerns, after explaining Oculus’ approach to maintaining the trust and support of its customers:
“At Oculus, we believe that maintaining people’s trust is critical to the long-term growth of not just our company, but the entire VR community. It’s why privacy and security are core to our product and company principles. Our approach to protecting people’s information permeates every aspect of our organization.”
In regards to specific questions about why Oculus collects user information and what that information is used for, McCollum explained that:
“Oculus currently collects and uses location-based information that is limited to general location information, such as time-zone and country-level information. This location information is necessary for Oculus to provide services to people around the globe. For example, we need to collect information to ensure that certain apps and content are only available in specific countries due to developer restrictions or differences in local law. Location information also allows us to ensure that people receive relevant experiences based on where they live…Oculus does not currently share location information with third parties or our related companies.”
Going a step further, McCollum also elaborates on why Oculus currently collects physical movement data from customers as well:
“Oculus collects physical movements and dimensions as a necessary tool to deliver a safe, comfortable, and seamless VR experience to people. For example, the Oculus Toybox application allows multiple people to pick up and play with virtual objects together, even if the people are in different parts of the world. To accomplish this complex computational activity, we need to know a person’s hand position and orientation…Oculus also collects information about physical dimensions to help improve its services. For example, calibrating a device to account for the distance between a person’s eyes improves the clarity and focus of images in VR…Information about movement and physical dimensions may be provided to our developers, including Facebook, so they can deliver experiences that better respond to people’s physical movements, which is a critical feature of a good VR experience.”
When Oculus supplied UploadVR with this response to Senator Al Franken, they also issues the following statement to us via email correspondence:
“We appreciate that Senator Franken is such a strong consumer advocate and has taken an early interest in virtual reality. We’re glad to have the opportunity to share more about Oculus and our approach to privacy and security with the Senator and the community.”
You can see the full letter here, which goes on to explain why Oculus stores user data, how that storage is managed, how it is aggregated, and the precautions that the company takes to secure customer information.