Dear privacy pros,
I hope you enjoyed the June vacations (for readers in the region) or are in the midst of enjoying the summer vacations (for readers further afield).
The need to stay abreast of privacy issues in the developing metaverse is one of the topics I have touched on in earlier introductions.
Meta, a company that (as its name suggests) has basically staked its future on the metaverse, has formed a partnership with a number of other technology giants and standards-setting bodies to develop industry standards that will hopefully render products and services from participating companies compatible in the nascent metaverse.
Besides Meta, participants in the Metaverse Standards Forum include leading tech companies (e.g., Microsoft and Adobe), chipmakers (Nvidia), equipment manufacturers (Lenovo), communication providers (Qualcomm) and other relevant organizations (World Wide Web Consortium).
While the list is impressive and fairly comprehensive, this initiative is unlikely to be sufficient to prevent a VHS-Betamax scenario from developing in the metaverse given notable absences such as Apple, which is rumored to be developing a mixed reality headset based on its in-house M2 chip. Also excluded are existing blockchain-based metaverse platforms such as Decentraland and The Sandbox.
One overarching question for privacy professionals to ponder is whether the standard(s) eventually adopted would facilitate private ownership and control of personal data and user-generated content, or whether these standards will maintain the current status quo, where users inevitably give this up to centralized entities.
One of the core ethos of Web 3.0 — and what really differentiates it from Web 2.0 — is that personal information and tokenized content should be owned by the individual. There are already a number of decentralized applications ("dapps") that allow individuals to better regulate the use of — and therefore potentially monetize — such data and content. If you are particularly geeky (or need good bedtime reading) you might also enjoy this rather esoteric paper on decentralized societies and “soulbound” tokens from Glen Weyl, Puja Ohlhaver and Vitalik Buterin (yes, that Buterin).
And if you feel that even Web 3.0 is not decentralized enough, there is always the Web 5.0 that TBD, the Bitcoin arm of Block (previously Square), is building. According to TBD:
“Web5 is a Decentralized Web Platform that enables developers to leverage Decentralized Identifiers, Verifiable Credentials, and Decentralized Web Nodes to write Decentralized Web Apps, returning ownership and control over identity and data to individuals.”
Founder and CEO Jack Dorsey, who left Twitter to focus on Block, proudly proclaimed, "this will likely be our most important contribution to the internet."
To return to more real-world issues, I would like to remind all readers that the Asia Privacy Forum will take place in Singapore 18 to 19 July. The agenda is shaping up nicely with a stellar lineup of speakers, and we already have a great delegate turnout, so please register soon if you have not already done so!
As the event will form part of Personal Data Protection Week 2022 organized by the Personal Data Protection Commission of Singapore, I would also urge you to register for the PDP Seminar and other panels and workshops available over the following two days (20 to 21 July) if you are able to attend.
Finally, I invite you to take a trip down memory lane with me by reading this piece from The Privacy Advisor on our President and CEO J. Trevor Hughes’ 20th anniversary with IAPP. Congrats Trevor!
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