WebTech and Security Lab

Current Projects
Brain-Computer Interfaces

Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) facilitate direct communication between a brain and a computer. Surgically invasive BCIs have been available to human participants in research contexts and have provided speech, control of prostheses, use of email and TV, and control of robots and wheelchairs. On the other hand, non-invasive BCIs are available to consumers, creating opportunities for applications development. BCIs can also be categorised according to function: some BCIs interpret neural activity, while others stimulate neural activity.

Privacy emerges from a society's communication practices. Perceptions of privacy differ from person to person and change according to circumstances, leading to diverse and changing privacy preferences. People maintain privacy by limiting their accessibility and by controlling information that describes them. Therefore, this project is premised on the view that only natural people require privacy, while both natural people and organisations require confidentiality, security and compliance with privacy legislation.

Ethical analysis of emerging technologies has been minimal, but is growing rapidly. Arguments for considering ethical implications and regulatory obligations in the course of conceptualising and developing new technologies have led to the emergence of Privacy-Enhancing Technologies (PETs) to support privacy without restricting technical functionality.

This project will conceptualise, design and develop a PET for BCIs that will enable (a) natural people to specify diverse privacy requirements and (b) compliance with the EU's privacy directives. Investigations into applying a Rawlsian distribution of justice motivation for the PET are ongoing.

We have a paper in which a preliminary conceptual model for the PET is presented (Wahlstrom, Fairweather and Ashman 2011), see the publications page.