Facebook’s data harvesting and sharing practices have deservedly come under fire over the past two years, but the company wants to put a recent rumor to rest: It’s not gathering or sharing data about the rooms where its Oculus Quest and Rift S VR headsets are being used, and if that changes in the future, it will notify users to let them know it’s happening.
The Quest and Rift S headsets each use Oculus-developed solutions called Insight and Guardian to 3D map the rooms where users are standing, creating virtual fences to keep hands and legs from accidentally smacking into nearby walls or objects. According to UploadVR, a Reddit post from a supposed Facebook insider claimed that Insight and Guardian internal bug reports included screenshots of testers’ homes, even including the bedrooms of Facebook executives.
But Facebook says the reality wasn’t as bad as that sounds. Screenshots were solely opt-in submissions from internal testers, all of whom volunteered to take the headsets home for pre-release testing and signed off before images were sent. Moreover, the final consumer Quest release prevents screenshots from conveying room data, yielding blacked-out images instead of live visuals, and the company says it doesn’t collect or store either images or 3D maps on its servers. Guardian maps are kept solely on the Quest or Rift S’ local PC.
“The only information we keep on our servers consists of performance metrics that don’t contain any recognizable detail about your environment,” Facebook told UploadVR. “These metrics help us improve Oculus Insight.”
For Quest and Rift S users concerned about potential privacy violations due to Insight or Guardian features, Facebook’s explicit denials should come as some relief. That said, there’s always the possibility that it may revise its policies in the future, or might change its tune on what’s currently being gathered, so the topic isn’t completely settled.