Daniele Marinelli’s blog: the metaverse worries European privacy watchdogs on the use and re-use of personal data

On 5 May 2022, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) and the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) published an opinion, adopted jointly by the two authorities, on the Data Act, attracting the immediate attention of data subjects who are still waiting for knowing the content of the agreement reached a few days ago between the Council and the EU Parliament on the proposed EU Regulation. The article is shared on the Daniele Marinelli’s blog, website for metaverse and blockchain users.

The opinion published on 5 May is the second joint opinion adopted by the two authorities on the text of the Data Act. To be more specific, on March 10th 2022, the two authorities adopted a joint opinion on the Data Governance Act that forms part of the Data Act itself.

Amongst the most sensitive points highlighted there, we find the issue of data portability.

Data Protection and the Metaverse: for Wojciech Wiewiórowski, an update of the European regulations is needed

In this regard we think that the statements made by Wojciech Wiewiórowski, the current European Data Protection Supervisor are very relevant.

Wiewiórowski emphasizes that the more the new technologies ensure data sharing and also, and perhaps above all, data usability and portability, the more Europe must ensure that the European data protection framework will remain the same, kept secure and, possibly, furtherly strengthened.

That’s why EDPB and EDPS turned to European decision-makers to provide for stronger and clearer restrictions on the use and re-use of data generated in connection to a product or service, especially when the use may relate to persons or entities other than the data subjects, and when the data themselves may include or make infer information about the private life of the persons using these services.

It is clear that the opinion was drafted with the aim of anticipating, as of now, the call for special attention to be paid to the use that the data produced by the services made available and the use of these services produced may cause, especially in the context of the evolution of the technologies and applications that the digital world is preparing, first and foremost the Metaverse.

  1. The Metaverse: why it is of great concern to the European Supervisory Authorities

The technology of the Metaverse is already of great concern to the European Supervisory Authorities, because they know how the data produced in the artificial environments that characterize the Metaverse can be reused in ways that can provide a great deal of valuable information on the characteristics and preferences of the people who part of the Metaverse, starting with the information gained through the analysis of facial expressions and eyes tracking, to influence or, worse, manipulate individuals.

And that is why, as already mentioned last March, the European Supervisory Authorities state that more incisive and, above all, clearer limits need to be introduced with regard to the possibility of using and re-using data for the purposes of direct marketing, employee monitoring, insurance risk assessment, and credit scoring.

In addition to this, the European authorities have requested greater and specific protection for the reuse of data that may involve minors or vulnerable people. Because if it is true that the Metaverse can represent an opportunity, we need always to be aware that, like today’s social networks, it has a dark side whose risks need to be addressed.

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