Knight discusses if virtual-reality "Metaversities" are a risk to students' data privacy

Firm News

This fall, hundreds of students across 10 colleges will join a small but growing cohort nationwide that is attending class in another dimension — the digital one.

What does that mean, exactly, for their data privacy?

To find out, The Chronicle analyzed university-vendor contracts, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, from five of the institutions that plan to pilot “metaversities”: digital, immersive replicas of their campuses that dozens of their students will visit and even attend classes in, using virtual-reality headsets.

Their analysis unearthed inconsistencies in the provisions the contracts outlined for data privacy and security. It also found no mention of two third-party companies — one of which is Meta, Facebook’s parent company and a tech conglomerate not historically known for best practices in this realm — that will be collecting various pieces of student data during the two-year pilot.

The differences across the contracts could be attributable to a host of factors, experts said: A college’s own data-governance policies, and relevant state laws (see the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018). Resources, and the number of general-counsel staff on hand to review contracts. The presumed lower stakes of a pilot project, and a price tag that, in the contracts The Chronicle reviewed, falls between $12,000 and $40,000.

Broadly speaking, especially if a new, exciting venture is generating community buzz, colleges’ main priorities are likely to be “to get to ‘Yes,’” said Jeff Knight, an education lawyer at Bricker & Eckler LLP. “They’re trying not to be a blocking agent.”

To read more about Metaversities and their impact on data privacy, visit The Chronicle to read more.

Related Attorneys

Media Contact

Subscribe to Receive Updates
Jump to Page

Necessary Cookies

Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

Analytical Cookies

Analytical cookies help us improve our website by collecting and reporting information on its usage. We access and process information from these cookies at an aggregate level.