With a growing number of cameras adorning the latest VR headsets from Meta, users understandably would like to know how their privacy is treated before inviting a headset into their home. Here’s what Meta has to say about what data is collected through its headset’s camera and sensors, and how it’s used.

Updated – November 15th, 2022

There’s never a bad time to be skeptical about how your private information is being used by products and companies which gather information about you, but an especially good time is when using products that rely on always-on cameras during use. That’s the case with almost all of the latest VR headsets which use an array of cameras for tracking the movement of your head and hands, and to offer a pass-through view of your surroundings. Meta’s latest headset, Quest Pro, is also the first from the company that has inward facing cameras to watch the user’s eyes and face movements.

The specifics of what data Meta claims to monitor and collect with its headsets is addressed in the ‘Supplemental Meta Platforms Technologies Privacy Policy‘ (last updated on October 25, 2022):

We collect information about or related to:

The position and orientation of your headset and controllers to determine body pose and make your avatar’s movements more realistic.

The position of your headset, the speed of your controller movement, and changes in your orientation (such as when you duck while playing a game) to deliver an immersive and realistic virtual experience.

Your audio data, when your microphone preferences are enabled, to animate your avatar’s lip and face movement.

Hand Tracking. If you choose to enable the hand tracking feature in MPT Products, we collect technical information, like estimated hand size and hand pose data. This information is necessary for the feature to work. Learn more in our Hand Tracking Privacy Notice.

Eye Tracking. If you choose to enable eye tracking in Meta Quest Pro, we process abstracted gaze data to improve your image quality in VR, help you interact with virtual content in an app, and to animate your avatar’s eye and facial movements. Raw image data of your eyes are stored on your device. We also collect and retain certain data about your interactions with eye tracking (such as tracking quality and the amount of time it takes to detect your eyes) to provide the feature and ensure it works properly. Learn more in our Eye Tracking Privacy Notice.

Natural Facial Expression. If you choose to enable Natural Facial Expressions in Meta Quest Pro, we process abstracted facial expressions data to make your avatar’s expressions look more natural in VR. Raw image data of your face is stored on your device. We also collect and retain certain data about your interactions with Natural Facial Expressions (such as how much time it takes to detect expressions) to provide the feature and ensure it works properly. Learn more in our Natural Facial Expressions Privacy Notice.

Fit Adjustment. If you choose to enable fit adjustment in Meta Quest Pro, we process abstracted fit adjustment data to check whether your headset is aligned optimally and provide headset adjustment tips. Raw image data of your eyes and lower face is stored on your device. We also collect and retain certain data about your interactions with fit adjustment (such as whether a user completed the setup process or how long the setup process took) to provide the feature and ensure it works properly. Learn More.

Meta offers additional detail in ‘Privacy Notices’ covering Hand Tracking, Eye Tracking, Face Tracking, and Fit Adjustment. According to Meta, all four of these features have the same foundational policies for privacy:

  • These features are optional and can be disabled at any time
  • These features are not used to identify you
  • Raw images are processed only on the headset and not sent to Meta or third parties
  • Raw images are deleted after processing and not stored on the headset
  • All the sensors on the headset (including cameras and microphones) are disabled when your headset enters sleep mode

Raw Images vs. “Abstracted Data”

Although Meta claims raw images from the cameras are processed locally and then deleted, that doesn’t mean the company isn’t collecting data derived from the raw images or your use of the features—it calls this “abstracted data.” For instance, for eye-tracking to work Meta uses the raw images to derive the direction your eyes are looking. Here’s what it says about what abstracted data may be collected from these features.

Hand tracking

To improve the hand tracking feature, we collect certain data from your device when you choose to use hand tracking. This data includes your usage data, estimated hand size, and source image telemetry (e.g., exposure, contrast). We also collect and retain other information about your interactions with the hand tracking feature consistent with our Privacy Policy, such as tracking quality, the amount of time it takes to detect your hands, and the number of pinches you make. If your device crashes, we also collect crash logs which may contain similar information as well as recently generated hand pose data.

Eye Tracking

The abstracted gaze data is generated in real time on your headset, and processed on device or Meta servers to animate your avatar’s eye contact and facial expressions, improve the image quality where you are looking in VR, and/or to interact with virtual content in VR. For example, if you choose to give an app offered by Meta access to your eye tracking data, the abstracted gaze data may be processed on Meta servers in order to animate your avatar’s eye contact and facial expressions in a multiplayer scenario. If you choose to calibrate eye tracking, the calibration data is stored on your device until you choose to delete this data in your device Settings or delete your account. We collect and retain certain data about your interactions with eye tracking as required for the feature to work properly and to provide the feature, consistent with our Privacy Policy. For example, we collect and retain information about tracking quality and the amount of time it takes to detect your eyes. If you have chosen to share additional data with Meta, we collect additional data about how you use your headset (including eye tracking) to help Meta personalize your experiences and improve Meta Quest. If your headset crashes, we send crash logs about your headset to our servers, which may contain recently generated abstracted gaze data, calibration data, and other information about your interactions with the eye tracking feature consistent with our Privacy Policy. Crash logs will not include raw image data of your eyes

Natural Facial Expression

The abstracted facial expressions data is generated in real time on your headset, and processed on device or Meta servers to animate your avatar’s facial expressions. For example, if you choose to give an app offered by Meta access to your Natural Facial Expressions data, the abstracted facial expressions data may be processed on Meta servers in order to animate your avatar’s facial movement in a multiplayer scenario. We collect and retain certain data about your interactions with Natural Facial Expressions as required for the feature to work properly and to provide the feature, consistent with our Privacy Policy. For example, we collect and retain information about how the headset fit affects the quality of detected facial movements or how much time it takes to detect your facial movements. If you have chosen to share additional data with Meta, we collect additional data about how you use your headset (including Natural Facial Expressions) to help Meta personalize your experiences and improve Meta Quest. If your headset crashes, we send crash logs about your headset to our servers, which may contain recently generated abstracted facial expressions data and other information about your interactions with the Natural Expressions feature consistent with our Privacy Policy. Crash logs will not include raw image data of your face.

Fit Adjustment

We collect and retain certain data about your interactions with fit adjustment as required for the feature to work properly and to provide the feature, consistent with our Privacy Policy. For example, we collect and retain information about whether a user completed the setup process or, how long the setup process took. If you have chosen to share additional data with Meta, we collect additional data about how you use your headset and controllers to help Meta personalize your experiences and improve Meta Quest. If your headset crashes, we send crash logs about your headset to our servers, which may contain recently generated abstracted fit adjustment data and other information about your interactions with the fit adjustment feature consistent with our Privacy Policy. Crash logs will not include raw image data of your eyes or face.

Quest LEDs Indicate Camera Usage

In addition to knowing what the cameras are capturing, knowing when they are capturing is helpful too. Luckily Meta has added LEDs to its headsets to clearly indicate when the cameras and sensors are active.

On Quest Pro there’s an LED on the front of the headset. When the LED is lit, the cameras are active. When lit white, the cameras are active but the user cannot see through them (ie: passthrough). When lit blue the user can see the outside world through the cameras (ie: passthrough).

The Quest Pro controllers, called Touch Pro, also include cameras for tracking. There are two LEDs on the side of each controller. When you see a white LED lit that means the controller’s cameras are active.

SEE ALSO
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  • namekuseijin

    people should be used to the fact that there’s no privacy anymore. There’s eyes and ears everywhere, in the streets, in the buses, in your hands – there’s always a camera around that may be inadvertdly capturing yours or others’ slice of lives. just get used to it, or go live in a cave… but my gut feeling is that we’re all naked and exposed and the ones in power are lying and that’s just how it is.

    but at the very least, most are just too irrelevant to be worth any spying so it’s no big deal really… what possible profitable information can they gather from me playing VR in underwear? nothing really, even if it were Trump himself… I think cameras in phones are far more a privacy threat than ones in VR headsets…

    • I hear what you’re saying, but depending on where you use your headset, there’s a wealth of information to be gained: What products you own, how many family members you might have, where you live, etc. What’s even worse is that if that data is sold to third parties, it could end up in the hands of criminals. There’s so many different uses for this data, and such value to be gained from its sale that it’s shockingly hard to predict just how vulnerable it makes you. That’s why it’s so important to take data collection seriously, and (where possible) to support companies that make strong commitments to avoiding it altogether.

      Unfortunately, while I like Oculus on its own, Facebook has lied so many times about how its used (and lost) our data that it can’t be trusted anymore.

      • Rudl Za Vedno

        Yes, it could end up in the hands of criminals called NSA, CIA, FBI, MI5… All have been known to have special contracts with Amazon, Google and FB… I don’t trust them a bit especially when reading report of “European Commission’s attorney Bernhard Schima who told the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) that the US-EU Safe Harbor framework does not work.
        The framework process supposedly protects personal data. In 2013, however, it was discovered the NSA and its British counterpart — the GCHQ, short for Government Communications Headquarters — had siphoned off data transfers by tapping directly into under sea cable networks.
        In fact, according to a lawyer representing the Austrian government before the CJEU, Safe Harbor is better suited for pirates than the protection of data of EU citizens. In other words, the system was designed to be hijacked by the NSA and GCHQ.
        “You might consider closing your Facebook account if you have one,” Schima told attorney-general Yves Bot at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.”

        • asshat

          well they also have some good reasons to want to monitor international data, and some good results from doing so. spying on under sea cables is on the opposite side of the spectrum as local in home spying that would happen with a devices.

          the fact that the quote goes from under sea tapping to FB is just ridiculous and unrelated. For one, theyre not looking at fb data that way and two you guys are forgetting with social media and fb, you have to upload it yourself in the first place. You literally put it in the ocean of the internet, thats on you.

          • Rudl Za Vedno

            I don’t use social media and when I do, I use VPNs and Thor.

      • Rogue Transfer

        It’s worth noting that Oculus is no long an individual entity or even a company since last year after the CEO left, when Facebook dissolved it and put it under Facebook’s Portal chief of the Facebook AR/VR division in Facebook Technologies LLC.

      • Peyton Lind

        The FBI, CIA, NSA and other government agencies are spying on everyone. I for one am more concerned about the government spying on me than some tech company. A tech company maybe sells my info so they make money off me. A government can decide to ruin my life if they deem I am not getting in line like they want.

        • asshat

          so who and why would someone from the government ruin you or any random person? compared to a company who wants to get at you for advertisement or your money.

        • James H.

          So … what makes you think facebook wouldn’t sell your information to a government?

        • Tommy

          Either scenario is not ok.

        • Max-Dmg

          I am spying on people too. I peek in peoples windows and letterboxes and hide up trees with binoculours. I sometimes bring a packed lunch.

      • namekuseijin

        I’m sorry, but didn’t you guys volunteer to explicitely tell facebook how many family members and related folk you do have and what your favorite hobbies, music and books are? face it: you gave them this information long ago and it’s publicly available to anyone with a facebook account – no need to try to sort out data from video feeds, you yourself did it!

        any dangerous criminals have already stole your house and murdered your family?

        sorry, but this whole reasoning is paranoia

        • Jistuce

          Actually, I don’t have a facebook account. In part because the company is basically “creepy stalker as a business model”.

          • James H.

            Excellent way to put it! Let’s not forget that Facebook literally started as a “Hot or Not?” style site, and that Zuckerberg called its users “dumb f_cks,” for trusting him!

          • Jistuce

            Well, in fairness… he’s not wrong. I’d call facebook’s users dumb effs for trusting Zuckerberg too.

        • Trenix

          What about the information shared via private messages. You think that isn’t being used?

        • Tommy

          Actually. no. Facebook has none of that info from me. All they have is my email address.

          • Max-Dmg

            Facebook knows what you did last summer.

        • Max-Dmg

          Good point.

    • Suitch

      Imagine taxes laying out and having your social and all the information required to steal your identity. The Rift S and Quest are used in homes, and homes can expose very high levels of private information. Also, I am sure that at least a few want to know if it will save first-person lewd pictures to their servers.

      • JohnnyBravoo

        Damn, I always do my taxes and take pictures of my social security right next to my Rift.

        • Suitch

          How cute that you can’t interpret simple statements related to the topic at hand. To assist you, the pictures are not taken by the person, merely by using a headset in, perhaps, a household.

        • namekuseijin

          better run for your life, man. Best place to hide is in prison. go steal some toothpaste at the convenience store to secure your future…

      • dk

        meh absolutely no difference from a phone

    • sebrk

      One of the more stupid statements I’ve read here so far.

      • namekuseijin

        no hard feelings, caveman

    • crim3

      It’s not as much a privacy concern. The problem lies in that user data has become the 21st century oil bussines. If a company is going to take something from me to make money with it, at the very least, they should ask for my explicit permission. And secondly, I shouldn’t be forced to agree to share my data to use some product just because that product in some way allows the gathering of data. It should always be an option, not a requirement.

      • namekuseijin

        oh, you want your share of ad money, how cute. When you (used to) go into a store and a perceptive seller takes heed of what you’re looking after and makes you recommendations upon your taste, you want a share of the man’s job too?

        • Tom Sataniček

          Stupid statement. When you are in the shop, it is relevant to you, because you are looking for something. But if you are just playing a game or doing whatever else – the person or technology watching what you do is totally sick, stalking.
          Additionally to this, in the real life you can punch the annoying stalker, but in internet reality you are basically defenseless.
          It is also an option to take your privacy seriously, or you want to end up with facebook monitoring you piss durations at the toilet to advertise you some miraculous unhealthly pills on better pissing?

    • WyrdestGeek

      We can acknowledge that, that’s how it is, but that doesn’t mean we should give up on demanding that it be better.

    • androsszit

      Because it only with manually picking out the juicy targets that would give them interesting results from the mic and cams. I run a large company network and you’d be shocked how much I can figure out about someone from just a casual glance of their browsing history. Now imagine what data I could glean by adding camera and microphone feeds into that, then throw a team backed with millions in funding, leverage automation through machine learning (like only shows us feeds where key words were spoken).
      Now you have a ridiculously rich catalogue for designing targeted ads, and well all kinds of fun things I shudder to imagine.

  • Grey Lock

    To be honest, the statement from Facebook/Oculus seems straight forward and makes sense.
    That said, I still think the law should require policies like this just in case someone at Facebook decides to change their minds and start storing our images and 3D maps of our homes.

    • Chuck Griggs

      Your avatar looks like an ED commander. 07

  • doug

    Good journalism!

  • “TODAY” is the key of all the statement

    • fdad

      The devil is in the details.

  • Adderstone VR

    Companies should start being truthful and open about what you are opting in to.
    Instead of a popup saying
    “In order to offer you a better experience – this app need permission to access your camera”
    Make the popup read
    “We want permission to access your camera so that we can analyze your facial expressions and sell that information to a third party in order to advertise to you more effectively”

  • Jistuce

    “We don’t collect and store images or 3D maps of your environment on our servers today- but now that you mention it, that’s a good idea and we’re putting the software team on it.”

  • Skippy76

    Another reason not to buy the Rift Shit or the Quest.
    Its ovious that any day now they’ll throw a switch on that will record all your conversations and start populating your facebook page with tons of adds related to your surroundings and conversations

  • WyrdestGeek

    We already know not to trust anything Facebook says regarding privacy.

    Four years from now, Facebook will “discover” that while their cameras were *technically* not recording anything, their headset was “accidentally” sending detailed biometric data to any advertiser that’s ever done business with them.

  • Trenix

    You know what’s weird? Facebook, a social media company, buys out Oculus, throws out the founders, and attaches cameras to the headset. This is the same company that was just fined $5 billion for privacy violations. You think they truly care about your privacy? You must be an idiot if you think so.

    • MeowMix

      Only Palmer was thrown out.
      Iribe quit and Mitchell is still there.

      • Trenix

        You spoke too soon, Mitchell is also departing. Now you should be worried.

    • Nevets

      And you, good sir, must also be an idiot if you think you can have inside-out tracking and augmented reality without the use of cameras. Do you have a Quest?

    • Sven Viking

      External cameras as used by DK2 and CV1 aren’t really much less of a potential privacy risk.

      • Fred

        DK2 didn’t have front-facing cameras. The tracking camera only saw IR so not as much of a privacy issue.

        • Sven Viking

          Can’t link to it without getting stuck in moderation but people managed to get the DK2 and CV1 cameras to take fairly clear black and white photos just by adjusting the automatic exposure in software. In normal use while tracking it’d likely have the exposure low enough that it’d mostly only see the IR dots, though, fair point.

  • JesuSaveSouls

    They use the cameras to familiarize the ai lifelike androids that will replace all humanoids that won’t conform.

  • Rudl Za Vedno

    “We don’t collect and store images or 3D maps of your environment on our servers today

    What about tomorrow, the day after ect. This legally not biding statement, keeping doors open to potential changes of privacy policy in the future. FB is data mining company, selling your personal data to the highest bidder. I wouldn’t trust them with anything. Same goes for Google, Amazon etc.

  • Jeffrey Sachse

    Does anyone here really feel self important enough that they believe any of their “data” would be of any real value aside from some gaming metrics? No one, not even Facebook, really cares if you play Beat Saber in your boxers and neither does anyone else really. You are on more cameras when you go anywhere these days than you could possibly imagine, and you know what, I don’t care and it won’t affect me.

    • asshat

      I remember when i was as ignorant as you, good time.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cy-9iciNF1A

      Its not about gaming metrics, its about any data they can get and using it any way they can.

      • Jeffrey Sachse

        So if you had access to my data, and saw me playing Beat Saber in my boxers, how exactly are they going to manipulate that data into something nefarious. I’d like to hear your opinions.

        • asshat

          lol easy, id listen to every conversation you have in your house until you say something that gives away financial information. thats an easy one.

          Also all the other statistics they pull can be endless from things like your height, body type, how long you can play, when you play, etc. this all seems like random useless data, and mostly is, but smart people can rearrange it and sell it, and others can then use it to advertise select things to you or people like you or in your area and change your perspective on something.

          This has the potential to be dangerous. and if a simple facebook survey can cause this much political damage, who knows what these kinds of devices can do.

          • Pablo C

            You are correct they can use this info in multiple ways, but mostly, to influence your political and economical view (like targeted publicity does). Both of those influences though, can be counteracted by simply thinking: Is this what I really want?
            So I agree they are spying on us, but as the guy above said, it´s limited, and it might work mostly on the less cultured, which are anyway, also the ones that don’t care at all about anything, politically or economically. The real problem happens in the US, where companies have too much power and where there are too many uncultured people that still have a lot of money. Those two factors together, happen pretty much only in the US. May be in the UK as well. In most countries, if you are not cultured, you won’t have enough money to get a VR system, you’d barely know what VR is.

          • asshat

            the issue is greater than VR. you’re mostly right aside from it being US only, This same team is working behind Brexit right now and have come forward about other countries political events theyve messed with. And you say these can be thwarted by simply thinking but others arent like you and I and they dont use common sense.

            Watch the Great Hack on netflix, its a great documentary that covers this and explains very well why this is a LOT larger than america. Its the worlds democracy(or any system of government) being undermined by target propaganda tactics and mass population idea manipulation.

            good chat though! everyone needs to know what we both know

          • Pablo C

            Thanks, I´ll check out that in netflix. You are right that this covers more than the US. It´s just that in the US (and the UK) it seems to have the most serious and permanent impacts. Because i.e. Brazil might also have been victim of this, and they chose Bolsonaro as president. And that’s a big deal. However, knowing how poor countries work, Bolsonaro will mess it up, and Brazil will elect a completely different leader after him. On the other hand, the US and the UK, seem to keep going right, non stop.

    • Tommy

      Besides smoking weed in a red state, I’m clean.

  • brandon9271

    Front-facing cameras so Zuckerberg can watch you masturbate.

    • Rudl Za Vedno

      Yep, Zuck’s dreams finally materializing :)

      • Jerald Doerr

        Wondered why his eyes are so big!

        • Tommy

          Those aren’t eyes. They’re pancake lenses

          • Tonanamous

            Leave the robot alone.

  • The Bard

    How about yesterday or tomorrow?

    • Tom Sataniček

      Luckily yesterday was today and tomorrow will be today also.

  • WyrdestGeek

    “Move fast and break things.” — like customer trust.

  • ShiftyInc

    If you are so worried about a company having this kind of access. then you should not be anywhere near any electricle device. Like your phone for example or you TV that has build in cameras as well.

  • Tommy

    I have a bridge for sale if anyone is interested.

    • Tonanamous

      Where? Asking for a friend.

  • I think you mean “adorning” not “adoring” up top

    • Ben Lang

      You are correct! Thank you.

  • JakeDunnegan

    Dude. Talk about a necro-post! I’m thinking a completely new article would have been appropriate here.

  • LazyFox

    So, with the recordings they captured, Adam & Eve can make some excellent product suggestions based on their observations of your home life?

  • If they watch those cameras too closely, they’re going to be looking at my d**k. Good VR games might be slow to release, but VAM always has new content.

    Not that I care, ENJOY THE SHOW, FREAKS! Let’m advertise to my knob!

    Obviously no need for any type of enhancement. Maybe CC some dating websites? Women only, please. If you ever needed a design reference for Tripods, I got you covered. Maybe recruiting for Men’s Freehand Pole Vaulting?

  • Lucidfeuer

    I mean whatever Facebook says, the opposite is true, especially on that topic everybody knows what it means except scums

  • Slippery

    The series is in my top ten of all time.

  • knuckles625

    Is there any indication when Quest 2 passthrough mode is active?