Your brain data could get privacy protections in Colorado

DENVER (KDVR) — It’s not sci-fi anymore: Computer-brain interfaces are here.

Dozens of trials are underway. And just last week, Neuralink implanted its first device in a human brain with the promise of letting users control their phones or computers “just by thinking.” Such technology could be used to help people with brain disorders or cognitive decline, but what happens to the data it collects?

It’s a question Colorado lawmakers want to get ahead of. A bipartisan bill — touted by sponsors as the first of its kind in the U.S. — would add neural privacy protections before the technology becomes widespread.

“While neurotechnology has made significant advancements, especially for people with disabilities, bad actors can also use this data to learn how to change people’s thoughts and behavior,” state Rep. Cathy Kipp, a Fort Collins Democrat, said in a statement about the bill she co-sponsored. “Our bill will protect Coloradans’ privacy of thought while continuing to encourage technological advancements.”

House Bill 24-1058 would add biological data about a person’s body, which includes neural data, to the “sensitive data” definition under the Colorado Privacy Act. This classification gives collectors stronger restrictions on what they can do with the data they take in.

What data does the Colorado Privacy Act protect?

The Colorado Privacy Act passed in 2021 and went into effect in July 2023. It gives Coloradans the right to access, delete or correct their personal data. Soon, it will also require a universal mechanism to opt out of personal data processing.

The law adds additional protections for so-called sensitive data. Under current law, it includes any data about a child under age 13 or biometric data used to identify a person. It also includes data that reveals racial or ethnic origin, religious beliefs, mental or physical health conditions, sex life or orientation and citizenship status.

People have to give consent for such data processing. But there are some exceptions, like if it’s not sold or shared with third parties or if the purpose for its collection is expressly disclosed.

Neural data would get these protections if the current bill becomes law.

Neural data bill: What’s next?

The neural data privacy bill advanced out of committee in January and passed a second reading in the House on Friday. If it gets full passage out of the House, it would still require the Senate’s approval and then the governor’s signature.

Along with Kipp, sponsors include Rep. Matt Soper and Sen. Mark Baisley, both Republicans, and Sen. Kevin Priola, a Democrat.

As written now, the law would go into effect 90 days after the session adjourns on May 8.

Source: Rocky Mountain News

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