May 26, 2024
  • Colorado Governor, Jared Polis, signed a bill that will extend the state’s existing privacy law to data collected from people’s brainwaves
  • While medically extracted brainwave data is protected by federal health law, such protections were in place for data collected through consumer-focused tech. The new law aims to change this

Colorado’s New Law Aims To Protect Consumer’s Brainwave Data

Colorado Governor, Jared Polis, signed a historic law this Wednesday that will protect a person’s brainwave data. It was first passed by a 61-to-1 vote in the Colorado House followed by a 34-to-0 vote in the Senate.

  • The law also gives people the right to access, edit, or delete their sensitive information.
  • They also have the right to decide if their data can be used in targeted ads.

This law is an addition to the state’s existing personal privacy law – the Colorado Privacy Law. So from now on, the definition of “sensitive personal data” (which previously included biometric data) will also include biological and neural data generated by the brain.

Regulators take this law very seriously – companies failing to comply face huge repercussions.

At a time when neurotech-powered products have become easily accessible, a law like this was much needed. Neural data obtained for medical and research reasons were already protected under federal health law.

However, the data collected from consumer-based products went largely unregulated. In fact, a report from The Neurorights Foundation states that the current data protection practices of this industry are almost non-existent. This changes now.

What Exactly Is Brainwave Data?

Brainwave stands for the pattern of electrical activity in your brain. It’s responsible for managing your mental and emotional state. Someone with access to your brainwave data will essentially know how your brain works and what you might be thinking.

Now, the question is how are they even collecting such data? The answer is neurotechnology. Today we have headbands that can process your brain activity and suggest personalized meditation assistance or help you deal with symptoms of depression and anxiety.

And last but not least, brain chips have become a reality. Companies like Neuralink and Synchron have already started testing brain chips on humans.

These chips are usually connected to another system and together they interpret the electrical signals in your brain and help you complete activities. For example, a person with a brain chip implant can play a game of cards online just by thinking.

While all these developments are remarkable, especially in the field of medicine, they also make people more vulnerable.

  • Neural data from people can easily be collected in bulk and sold to third-party organizations.
  • These businesses can then break it down and study the user’s thoughts, feelings, and intentions and even learn about their underlying medical conditions.

The bill was sponsored by Senator Mark Baisley who said that he’s very pleased with the signing. What makes him happier is that Colorado gets to lead the world in helping people protect their private thoughts.

We must provide a clear framework to protect Coloradans’ personal data from being used without their consent while still allowing these new technologies to develop.State representative Cathy Kipp

The Growth of Neurotechnology 

Neuralink and Synchron are just two big names in a sea of emerging neurotech companies.

Reports show that investment in this industry has increased by 60% between 2019 and 2020. And in 2021, the total investment amounted to $30 billion.

Significant milestones have already been reached. As discussed before, Neuralink (owned by Elon Musk) has already started human testing and its first patient is not only recovering well but was also seen playing chess without moving his hands.

Similarly in 2022, a completely paralyzed man was able to communicate through a computer just by his thoughts.

So it’s clear that this industry has a lot of potential. But with great power comes great responsibility and a need for more regulation.

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