Today: Apr 23, 2024

State action driven by brain-scanning tech for safeguarding neural privacy.

2 months ago

TLDR: State lawmakers in Colorado and Minnesota are taking action to address privacy concerns related to brain-scanning technology. The proposed laws would establish rights and protections for information collected from electrical neural signals, to prevent misuse or manipulation by neurotechnology companies. The legislation is aimed at wearable devices for sleep monitoring and brain-computer interfaces that allow paralyzed individuals to control robotic tools with their minds. Currently, there are no federal regulations governing these technologies. Privacy advocates warn that without guidelines, there could be severe consequences. The state bills offer an early indication of which novel uses concern lawmakers, and if enacted, other states may follow suit. Ultimately, the goal is federal action to regulate neurotechnology.

In Colorado, legislation has been passed by the House to amend the state’s comprehensive privacy law to address neurotechnology. The bipartisan-sponsored bill is the first of its kind to advance out of a legislative chamber. However, complications may slow its momentum in the Senate, as lawmakers will need to figure out how it interacts with existing laws and regulations. In Minnesota, a standalone bill has been introduced in both legislative chambers. It includes more specific provisions to establish a right to “cognitive liberty” and imposes penalties for accessing brain data without consent.

Outside of the US, there is also growing concern surrounding neurotechnology. After Chile enacted mental privacy protections, the Neurorights Foundation has worked with other countries, including Brazil, Mexico, and Spain, as well as the United Nations, on similar proposals. Cybersecurity breaches and the potential for malicious hacking of neural data are key concerns. The organization’s next step is to introduce its mission to US lawmakers at the National Conference of State Legislatures.