India entered the era of Cyber Laws in 2000 with ITA 2000 and made a soft entry to data protection law in 2009 with the notification of ITA 2008 and likely to enter the field of Data Protection law in 2022. During these 20 years, Jurisprudence in Cyber Laws is under development and has accelerated in the last few years. At present we are in the process of assimilating the concept of “Cyber Evidence” and moving ahead we are trying to understand the legal principles related to Artificial Intelligence, Big Data , IoT , Smart Cars, Crypto Assets, Meta Verse etc.
It would take a few more years to understand the anatomy of these technological developments and arrive at a generally acceptable interpretation for judicial purpose. The jurisprudence regarding such techno legal issues has to be developed by Techno Legal experts which in due course will reflect in judgements.
In the meantime, a new branch of human rights has emerged in the name of “Neuro Rights”. It has come as an of shoot of the “Privacy Rights” and hence needs to be addressed almost immediately after the Data protection law comes into existence.
Naavi.org will try to present different perspectives of Neuro Rights in preparation for a larger discussion in due course.
“Neuro Rights” is a branch of human rights and for the sake of definition, we can define “Neuro Rights” as that body of law that addresses regulation of technological intrusions into the human’s mental faculty. It tends to protect the “Cognitive Liberty” of an individual which is the right of a person to independently and autonomously use his/her mind to engage in multiple modes of thought.
The technologies that tend to read, modify or block (similar to the Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability principles in Information Security) the functioning of the human brain and connected nervous system are the “Neuro Technologies”, the use of which impairs the native ability of a subject to interpret the sensory perceptions.
For example, if a tiger is in front of me and my mind is made to think and see that it is a cat, then it is an intrusion into my mind for alteration of visual perception. Such illusions with “Deep mind stimulation” has been successfully experimented with rats by electrodes implanted inside the rat. It is a FDA approved procedure and soon may be allowed against the human beings. The topic has been extensively discussed and reflected in many movies and not far from being realized in the actual world.
In the positive sense, such technologies can make a blind person see as if he has eyes, help in treatment of sleep disorders, motor coordination problems, epilepsy, depression etc.
Hypnotism is already being used for similar results though the technology of hypnotism and the technology of Neuro Modulation are different and we shall try to differentiate between the two in some future discussions.
We are already aware of “Cochlear Implants” which enable persons with inner ear problems leading to hearing loss to regain hearing . A Cochlear implant is surgically implanted in the body and bypass the damaged portion of the inner ear to directly stimulate the auditory nerve.
Similarly there are prosthetic limbs which sense the twitching of muscles and convert them into movements of fingers.
What these devices indicate is that it is technically possible to interact with the human nervous system and change the sensory perceptions through appropriate changes induced in the signals reaching the brain from the organs or vice versa. Whether this can be done through a “Near Field Communication” device or through a surgically implanted chip only is a matter to be decided by the technological developments.
Is this “Ethical”?
Is this an intrusion of “Mental Privacy”?
Does this impair the “Choice” of the human subject and render our current Privacy law based on “Opt-in Consent” completely irrelevant?
…..are issues that arise in the light of these developments.
This developments in “Neuro Modulation/Modification Technologies” (NMTs), are not like the medical implants which regulate heart functions or blood sugar discharge etc., which are IoT devices which talk to external stimuli including wifi messages which pose many serious life threatening security risks.
Manipulation of the brain activity may actually change the person himself into a different person and pose greater danger than the “Artificial intelligence”.
It is therefore necessary for us to think if we need to quickly bind the technology developers into some sort of discipline so that they donot create monsters and escape responsibility saying that it was just a bug in the software.
This branch of law that addresses this concern is the Neuro Rights Law. It is new branch of study which is an extension of Privacy Rights.
In terms of development of legal jurisprudence, it has taken 20 years since India introduced Cyber Law but Cyber Jurisprudence is still under development. We donot know how long it will take for Data Protection Jurisprudence to reach some threshold level of acceptability. But we cannot ignore that now we are entering a new era of Neuro Rights and have to develop Jurisprudence for this branch of law also.
Naavi will try to place his thoughts little by little on this topic and hopefully Naavi.org will aggregate these thoughts into some useful body of knowledge.
Watch out for more articles on this topic in the days to come.
(P.S: I am aware that I am only a student in this new domain of Neuro Rights and trying to marry the legal concepts with Neuro Science and Psychology in the process, both of which are specialized areas of medical science. Just as 20 years back I tried to develop the Techno Legal jurisprudence by bringing the law and technology concepts to support each other, and later tried to bring together the computer technology and physics concepts together, I am trying to bring together two dissimilar disciplines together by interpreting law to he way human nervous system operates. I hope the readers of this blog will appreciate the short comings in such a journey and help me take the discussions from the base level to a more sophisticated level in the next few months. )