On June 8, 2023, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) published a new report on neurotechnology. Neurotechnology is technology used to monitor neurodata, the information coming directly from the brain and nervous system. In its press release on the report, the ICO warns that “that newly emerging neurotechnologies risk discriminating against people if those groups are not put at the heart of their development” and predicts the use of such technologies to become “widespread over the next decade.”
The ICO notes that neurotech is already used in the healthcare sector under specific regulations, but neurotech is rapidly developing for use in the personal wellbeing, sports and marketing sectors, and for monitoring people in the workplace. According to the ICO, there is a risk of inherent bias and inaccurate data being embedded in the technology if it is “not developed and tested on a wide enough range of people.”
Stephen Almond, Executive Director of Regulatory Risk at the ICO, states that the ICO wants “to see everyone in society benefit from this technology,” but to “avoid the real danger of discrimination,” it is important for organizations “act now.”
The ICO is in the process of developing guidance on the topic, which will, among other things, consider the interpretation of core legislative and technical neurotechnology definitions, link to existing ICO guidance where appropriate, and provide case studies.