Privacy in Virtual Worlds: A US Perspective
Virtual Worlds (VW) are intricate 3-dimensional, vivid environments that are the digital equivalents of the physical world (Glibert, 2011). VWs offer new and engaging methods of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) used for conducting many kinds of processes and functions, from education and training, to new product development and customer service. A vast amount of personal information can be recorded, stored, and analyzed in VW. This paper presents a rich account of what today’s VW consist of and the current state of privacy rights in VW in the United States.
First the paper explains why VW should be considered separate from other ICT. Then privacy rights in the United States are discussed, and how these rights could, or should, apply to VW. Currently privacy rights of VW users are wholly created and defined by the Terms of Service (TOS) of the VW. The argument is put forth that privacy rights need to be approached in two ways, from the VW users working to improve their rights in the TOS and improved government privacy regulation as called for by the VW community. Privacy laws or the right to privacy is critical at this point in the development of VW. As in the days of the Wild West, the law has been slow to make its way into the realm of VW. In conclusion, critical issues are identified to be addressed in future research projects.
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The full website for the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research can be found at: http://jvwresearch.org