Ethics Emerging: The Story of Privacy and Security Perceptions in Virtual Reality


Virtual reality (VR) technology aims to transport the user to a virtual world, fully immersing them in an experience entirely separate from the real world. VR devices can use sensor data to draw deeply personal inferences (e.g., medical conditions, emotions) and can enable virtual crimes (e.g., theft, assault on virtual representations of the user) from which users have been shown to experience real, significant emotional pain. As such, VR may involve especially sensitive user data and interactions. To effectively mitigate such risks and design for safer experiences, we aim to understand end-user perceptions of VR risks and how, if at all, developers are considering and addressing those risks. In this paper, we present the first work on VR security and privacy perceptions: a mixed-methods study involving semi-structured interviews with 20 VR users and developers, a survey of VR privacy policies, and an ethics co-design study with VR developers. We establish a foundational understanding of perceived risks in VR; raise concerns about the state of VR privacy policies; and contribute a concrete VR developer "code of ethics", created by developers, for developers.