Doctoral project 3

Digital health care governance and privacy

In recent years, the digital exploration of the human mind has flourished. Ongoing projects by brain research centres worldwide demonstrate that the (digital) mapping of the mind is of major interest for all big players in science and research. Advancements of digital technologies, in particular the possibilities of big data and AI, have led to progress in the datafication of the human mind that only a decade ago seemed unimaginable. Emotion technology and neuro technology are experiencing lightning technological progress. Collectively referred to as digital mental technologies, they are opening up a growing market within the digital tech sector. Both technologies are increasingly deployed in several sectors, such as mental health, marketing/advertising/retail, gaming, smart products, employment, education and law enforcement.

The information processed by digital mental tech is inherently intimate. The findings do not only serve to track a status quo but can also be used to predict or even manipulate future behaviour. Inaccurate results can lead to discrimination and severe legal damages. Moreover, the mere idea of having one’s thoughts and emotions read by third parties, without being aware of it or against one’s consent, adds to the complexity of the issue.

Concerns about the legal and ethical implications of the deployment of digital mental tech have therefore received increasing attention. In an attempt to contribute to the ongoing debate on whether or not emerging digital mental technologies require new laws, Elisabeth’s project aims to assess the European legal framework in the main sectors of deployment. Taking into account the different circumstances of and the different legal considerations following thereof, the project will analyse the relevant European lex lata and lex ferenda with regard to digital mental tech.