Don’t buy Oculus Quest 2 device for your kids: it can show them harmful content

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has requested a hearing with Mark Zuckerberg to make some clarifications about Meta and the way it’s recently launched virtual reality headsets work, seeking to have the company explain in detail how they will prevent minors from being exposed to harmful content when using this technology.

Costing more than $300 USD, the Oculus Quest 2 headphones were one of the most sought-after technology implementations by parents during the holiday season; however, cybersecurity specialists believe that the absence of adequate security mechanisms could expose younger users to some harmful behaviors.

According to a report by The Guardian, this government project has as a background an investigation carried out by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), which points to the detection of multiple abuses in VRChat. A couple of these cases have even been investigated as alleged child abuse crimes, with a convict with sexual violence charges against him.

The British authorities want to know more about how Meta meets cybersecurity standards on these devices, since being widely used by children they should have their security as a primary consideration. In this regard, a representative of the ICO mentions: “Online services that require the use of personal data of infants must meet a specific standard.”

This so-called “children code” should focus on preventing websites and apps from misusing the information of anyone under the age of 18, although the regulation does not apply to the content of these platforms. Failure to comply with these measures could lead to fines of up to £18 million or the equivalent of 4% of the penalized company’s annual profits.

On the other hand, the head of child safety policy at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has risen what he considers fundamental questions about Meta and its compliance with the children’s code: “A virtual environment like the one Meta aspires to create could pose a greater risk to infants without proper safety controls. In addition, it is clear that the Oculus headphones were not developed with this regulation in mind.”

As you can see, Meta has yet to answer hundreds of questions about its ambitious projects in the near future, as governments around the world continue to move toward creating regulatory frameworks that tech companies must comply with before they start operating and apply for permissions to access information on our devices and in technology deployments used by minors.

To learn more about information security risks, malware variants, vulnerabilities and information technologies, feel free to access the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) websites.