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Watching Androids Dream of Electric Sheep: Immersive Technology, Biometric Psychography, and the Law

Posted by on Friday, April 9, 2021 in Articles, Volume 23, Volume 23, Issue 1.

Brittan Heller | 23 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. L. 1 (2021)

Virtual reality and augmented reality present exceedingly complex privacy issues because of the enhanced user experience and reality-based models. Unlike the issues presented by traditional gaming and social media, immersive technology poses inherent risks, which our legal understanding of biometrics and online harassment is simply not prepared to address. This Article offers five important contributions to this emerging space. It begins by introducing a new area of legal and policy inquiry raised by immersive technology called “biometric psychography.” Second, it explains how immersive technology works to a legal audience and defines concepts that are essential to understanding the risks that the technology poses. Third, it analyzes the gaps in privacy law to address biometric psychography and other emerging challenges raised by immersive technology that most regulators and consumers incorrectly assume will be governed by existing law. Fourth, this Article sources firsthand interviews from early innovators and leading thinkers to highlight harassment and user experience risks posed by immersive technology. Finally, this Article compiles insights from each of these discussions to propose a framework that integrates privacy and human rights into the development of future immersive tech applications. It applies that framework to three specific scenarios and demonstrates how it can help navigate challenges, both old and new.

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Brittan Heller