Dear privacy pros,
I hope you had a great Data Privacy Week — not to be confused with the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities’ Privacy Awareness Week, which typically happens in May — and a happy Safer Internet Day.
And for our Chinese readers, I trust that your Year of the Tiger has gotten off to a roaring start.
祝大家龙腾虎跃， 身体健康， 福虎生威，步步高升！
I have read a couple of interesting articles concerning Facebook’s privacy practices recently. The Financial Times reportedly trawled through hundreds of patent applications filed by parent company Meta Platforms, which gave a hint about how the company intends to utilize face and eye tracking, biometric data, wearable sensors and other novel technologies to customize users’ augmented reality experience in the metaverse.
Rather ominously, Meta’s Head of Global Affairs Nick Clegg confirmed in an interview with FT that Facebook’s business model in the metaverse is “commerce-led,” and advertising clearly plays a role in that. This implies that Facebook could soon be using machine learning and the treasure trove of information it would amass in Horizon Worlds, the virtual space it is building (which I have previously written about), to target not only eyeballs (literally), but even the users’ reactions, moods and emotions.
This unprecedented ability to optimize content for maximum engagement clearly goes beyond estimating sentiment based on the number of “likes” a post gets and may potentially raise a number of ground-breaking privacy issues of the nature alluded to in my last introduction.
Perhaps it is good news for privacy advocates, then, that Facebook has plans to wind down its cryptographic stablecoin project Diem (previously known as Libra), and sell off remaining technology assets. It is truly scary for me to imagine a world in which any single company (or for that matter even a government) would have access to so much intimate personal data, plus the ability to monitor every single financial transaction an individual has made.
Any company that intends to operate in the brave new world that Web3 represents will no doubt need to put in place strong privacy controls and governance processes, just as Facebook has done. For example, Facebook’s oversight board’s recommendations on sharing home addresses and other sensitive information potentially used for doxxing in this week’s Dashboard is well worth a read.
Before I leave you to read the digest, I would like to remind readers that the call for proposals for the Asia Privacy Forum closes 27 Feb. If you would like to speak at the conference, please submit your proposals at the link provided before that!
If you want to comment on this post, you need to login.