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Confidentiality and ethics in virtual tours

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Email marketing and 3D models: what are the advantages?

The real estate sector is undoubtedly the one that uses virtual tours the most. They offer unprecedented immersion in virtual environments, enabling users to explore remote locations with striking realism.

However, this immersion and the sheer quantity ofinformation shared and collected raise important questions about ethics and confidentiality. What are they, and how do we deal with them? Find out more about the ethical and confidential aspects of virtual tours.

Compliance of virtual tours with personal data protection regulations

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) sets the standard for personal data protection. Virtual tours are no exception to these rules. Visualization platform owners are among the first to be affected by these rules.

Minimal collection of personal data

The personal data collected by the platforms is limited to what is strictly necessary to provide the service and ensure optimal browsing on the site. This data includes, in particular, surname, first name, e-mail address, necessary cookies or log files. Irrelevant data, which may compromise users' privacy, is not collected.

Informed consent

Users are informed of how their data will be used, stored and shared in order to obtain explicit, free and informed consent. Consent may be revoked at any time.

Limiting the storage time of personal data

Personal data is only kept for the time necessary to provide you with virtual tours.

Transparency and access

Users must have access to their own data, so they can modify or delete it if necessary. The virtual tour platform needs to be transparent about all the information collected, but also secure.

Data and site security

The virtual tour platform and personal data must be protected by robust security systems. This helps combat and prevent cyber attacks. To ensure optimum security on virtual tours, several means can be deployed.

  • Data encryption with SSL (Secure Socket layer) digital certificates: this is a standard technology for securing Internet connections. SSL prevents hackers from viewing or hijacking data, as it encrypts and protects passwords, user names and forms for transmitting documents and personal data;
  • A unique identifier: using a unique identifier and creating a strong password keeps data secure;
  • The use of firewalls: these are network security devices that restrict the flow of data in and out of a private network. It is used to prevent malicious activity and to prevent anyone, inside or outside the network, from carrying out unauthorized Web activities.
  • Access management for virtual tour platforms.

Many online visualization platforms have already implemented these measures, to secure virtual tours submitted by real estate developers, graphic designers or architects.

Safeguarding users' rights

With regard to the protection of personal data provided for virtual tours, users of 3D visualization platforms have several rights:

  • The right to access all personal information;
  • The right to rectify incorrect or incomplete data;
  • The right to be forgotten or the right to erasure to request the deletion of personal data in certain circumstances;
  • The right to restrict data processing;
  • The right to object to data processing ;
  • The right to data portability to provide the information given in order to transfer it elsewhere ;
  • The right not to be subjected to automated individual decisions, such as profiling.

Preserving the rights of users or visitors in virtual tours is a crucial aspect of digital ethics. These rights are designed to guarantee users control over their personal data, and to reinforce their protection in virtual tours.

Protecting privacy when virtualizing properties for sale

For private individuals who wish to put their property up for sale and entrust it to estate agents, special measures need to be put in place. The digitization of their home exposes them to the risk ofprivacy intrusion. Open-access virtual tours therefore present security challenges (discovery of the security system, discovery of valuable objects, planning a burglary...). Protective measures are therefore put in place to safeguard privacy and confidential property information, such as :

  • The ability to blur valuable and personal items such as family photos and paintings
  • Removing elements beforehand, so that they are not shown in the virtual tour;
  • The possibility of reserving a room or area for sensitive objects and making this area inaccessible;
  • Concealment of the location of the property or apartment if the owner so wishes,
  • The ability to provide private and confidential virtual tours with invitation-only access by sending a link, or password-protected access.

Digitization experts need to take these protective measures upstream, when taking 360° shots or creating content for virtual tours.

Ethical considerations in virtual tour content generation

Artificial intelligence AI revolutionizes virtual tours by providing immersive, interactive and personalized content. AI can tailor the virtual tour experience to users, creating a more engaging and relevant journey with AI algorithms analyzing individual preferences. The content of AI-generated virtual tours must, however, comply with ethical and legal standards. The main ethical considerations that need to be observed.

  • Biases in algorithms: these lead to discrimination and need to be monitored to ensure fairness and generate inclusive content. A case in point is facial recognition, which performs poorly on one group of individuals compared to another;
  • Data security and confidentiality must be implemented to ensure the protection and confidentiality of sensitive data. Indeed, to generate personalized content, AI requires access to user data;
  • Transparency in AI-generated virtual tour content must be maintained. Visitors must be informed when they interact with AI, for example with clear indications that they are using AI-generated content, to enable them to make an informed decision and have realistic expectations of the content ;
  • Content accessibility for people with disabilities can be guaranteed by AI. People with reduced mobility or visual or hearing impairments can benefit from inclusivity and enjoy the virtual experience by making the most of basic AI functionalities such as alternative navigation methods, audio descriptions, voice commands, subtitles or closed captions.

Computer graphics designers, developers and real estate agents need to take all this information into account when creating virtual tours.

Protection against inappropriate content in virtual tours

To create safe and respectful online environments for all users, virtual tour providers need to put in place devices that combat the spread of inappropriate content. Several solutions are available:

  • Set up automated filters to detect inappropriate content such as images, videos or texts of a sexual, violent, offensive or discriminatory nature;
  • Implement human moderation to review and remove inappropriate content reported by users or detected by automated systems;
  • Set up simple, effective content reporting mechanisms and the corresponding protocol;
  • Establish clear policies regarding the type of content allowed and prohibited on their virtual tours, as well as the consequences of non-compliance with these policies.

When preparing virtual tours, confidentiality and ethics must be taken into consideration, with the aim of providing fair and respectful content, in compliance with current data protection regulations. All players have responsibilities to assume: platform owners, graphic designers and creators of virtual tour tools, real estate developers and agents, and private individuals.

Let us take care of your virtual tours!

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