ICO warns Meta that its VR hardware needs parental controls to protect children

Facebook parent Meta is ready for a new clash with the UK Data Protection Authority due to concerns that a lack of parental control on Oculus Quest 2 puts children at risk.

Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.

The virtual reality headset proved to be a popular gift this Christmas, with the owner of social media making a dent in his efforts to mainstream technology among the masses, but concerns remain about the risk of exposure to harmful content without mechanisms to block inappropriate material for under 18s.

The Center for Countering Digital Hate is among those raising awareness of the issue, pointing to internal research that revealed cases of abuse conducted via the social app VRChat.

In a statement, an ICO spokesman said: “Online services and products that use personal data and are likely to be accessed by children are required to comply with the standards of our children’s code.

“We are planning further discussions with Meta about their children’s privacy and data protection through design approaches to Oculus products and virtual reality services. Parents and children who have concerns about how their data is handled may complain to us at ICO.”

Meta’s grilling will make it question the apparent non-compliance with its age-appropriate design code for connected devices, which mandates that children’s well-being is crucial.

Specific requirements include provisions to verify that users are 13 years of age or older, not just asking users to self-indicate their age by checking a box, as is currently the case.

If Meta turns out to be in breach of the code, a range of sanctions are possible ranging from a blow to the wrist to a fine of up to £ 17.5m. or 4% of global revenue – equivalent to £ 2.5 billion.

Supervisors’ attention has previously been focused on content rather than entities, where a code of conduct is being developed to protect vulnerable users from illegal material, especially children.

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