Privacy and the Connected Mind

This report provides an overview of the technology, benefits, privacy and ethical risks, and proposed recommendations for promoting privacy and mitigating risks associated with brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). It focuses on the current privacy impacts of BCIs, as well as the data protection questions raised by realistic, near-future use of BCIs.

BCIs are computer-based systems that directly record, process, or analyze brain-specific neurodata and translate these data into outputs that can be used as visualizations or aggregates for interpretation and reporting purposes and/or as commands to control external interfaces, influence behaviors, or modulate neural activity. Some uses of BCI technologies raise important questions about how laws, policies, and technical controls can safeguard inferences about individuals’ brain functions, intentions, moods, or identity.