Colorado law protects brain data captured by gadgets

On Wednesday, Colorado’s privacy law was extended to cover brain data collected by the increasing number of devices people use to monitor their sleep, exercise, sports, and lifestyle.

The nonprofit Neurorights Foundation stated that it collaborated with the government to get the first-ever legislative protection for neurological data collected by devices that are exempt from privacy regulations that apply to medical data.

A bill signed into law by the Colorado governor expands a 2021 privacy act to include protection of neural data, defined as “measurement of the activity of an individual’s central or peripheral nervous systems and that can be processed by or with the assistance of a device.”

The nonprofit works to alert authorities to the dangers associated with gadgets like sleep-enhancing headbands, meditation earphones, golf swing-improving sensors, and similar items.

When talking about a recently published paper on the subject, foundation co-founder Jared Genser told a reporter that most users are unaware that consumer “neurotechnology” can record or even affect brain activity.

“The human brain is unlike any other organ, as it generates all of our mental and cognitive activities,” the foundation report stated.

This neurological data “is therefore capable of revealing enormously sensitive information about the people from whom it was collected, including identifiable information about their mental health, physical health, and cognitive processing,” it argued.

According to Genser, the devices operate outside of privacy regulations that are relevant to professional medical care.

“Your thoughts, your memories, your imagination, your emotions, your behavior and even subconscious things you are not aware of are carried in the brain,” said foundation president Rafael Yuste, director of the Neurotechnology Center at Columbia University.

According to the foundation study, the companies behind gadgets—many of them tiny startups—often collect more data than is necessary for the items to work.

According to the organization, the majority of businesses also permit the exchange of gathered neurological data with unidentified third parties.

Proponents are also concerned about potential long-term risks as sensor sensitivity increases.

“Sooner or later, a company will sell magnetic stimulators to improve memory, Yuste predicted.

“Which will make it possible to manipulate brain activity, not just record it.”

Thanks to artificial intelligence that assists in interpreting detected activity and neural implants that are inserted directly into brains, the underlying technology is developing quickly.

Tech giants might hasten the adoption of these devices by linking data to well-liked features or services on their platforms.

According to Genser, Apple has submitted a patent application to incorporate electroencephalography sensors—which detect brain activity—into the wireless AirPods earpieces.

This article has been posted by a News Hour Correspondent. For queries, please contact through [email protected]
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