2021 INS Annual Meeting
Online Conference
November 4-5

Assessing Rights-based and Legal Approaches to Protecting Mental Privacy

Friday, November 5, 2021
12:00p EDT / 16:00 UTC

A number of developments in recent years have led to calls and proposals to provide protections for neural and mental data, including the availability of digital neural and behavioral datasets and advances in technologies to collect and analyze brain data. For this workshop, there will be discussion of human rights and other legal approaches to protecting mental privacy. Experts from the fields of neuroscience, law, and ethics will lead the discussion with attendees, addressing key issues such as: what types of data need additional protections, the rationales for different legal and rights-based approaches, and the promises and pitfalls for these different approaches.


  • Sara Goering, University of Washington (United States)
  • Brenda McPhail, Canadian Civil Liberties Association (Canada)
  • Abel Wajnerman Paz, Alberto Hurtado University (Chile)
  • Moderator: José Manuel Muñoz, University of Navarra (Spain)


  • Prepared question prompts for speakers (20 minutes)
  • Open discussion guided by attendee questions (40 minutes)


Transcript (PDF)


  • Recommendations for Responsible Development and Application of Neurotechnologies. Goering, S., Klein, E., Specker Sullivan, L. et al. Neuroethics (2021).
  • On neurorights. Ienca, M. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 15, Article 701258; 24 September 2021.
  • Towards new human rights in the age of neuroscience and neurotechnology. Ienca, M., Andorno, R. Life Sci Soc Policy 13, 5 (2017).
  • Towards a governance framework for brain data. Ienca, M., Fins, J.J., Jox, R.J., Jotterand, F., Voeneky, S., Andorno, R., Ball, T., Castelluccia, C., Chavarriaga, R., Chneiweiss, H., Ferretti, A., Friedrich, O., Hurst, S., Merkel, G., Molnar-Gabor, F., Rickli, J-M., Scheibner, J., Vayena, E., Yuste, R., and Kellmeyer, P. (2021).
  • I'll Be Watching You. B. McPhail, A. Clement, J. Ferenbok and A. Johnson. IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 53-63, Summer 2014.
  • Is mental privacy a component of personal identity? Wajnerman, A. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Article 773441 (2021).
  • It's time for neuro-rights. Yuste, R., Genser, J., & Herrmann, S. (2021). Horizons, 18, 154–164 (2021).
  • Four ethical priorities for neurotechnologies and AI. Yuste, R., Goering, S., Arcas, B. et al. Nature 551, 159–163 (2017).


Image of Sara Goering
Sara Goering

Professor of Philosophy
University of Washington

Sara Goering is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Washington, Seattle, with affiliations in the Program on Ethics, Disability Studies, and Bioethics & Humanities. With Eran Klein, she leads the UW neuroethics research group at the Center for Neurotechnology. Their NIH RF1 grant explores issues of agency in relation to neural devices, and involves conceptual/philosophical work as well as qualitative interview work with neural device users.

Image of Brenda McPhail
Brenda McPhail

Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Dr. Brenda McPhail is the Director of the Privacy, Technology and Surveillance Program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Her work focuses on litigation, advocacy and public education relating to the ways in which privacy rights are at risk in contemporary society, particularly in relation to emerging technologies, and the impacts of surveillance that expand beyond privacy to affect other rights including equality, free expression, and peaceful assembly.

Image of Abel Wajnerman Paz
Abel Wajnerman Paz

Alberto Hurtado University

Abel Wajnerman Paz is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Neuroethics Group of the Department of Philosophy at Alberto Hurtado University, Santiago de Chile. He obtained his PhD in Philosophy at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina (2015). His main areas of interest are the Philosophy of Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroethics. He focuses on epistemic and conceptual issues related to perception, thought and consciousness, and their neuroethical implications regarding mental privacy, personal identity, psychological integrity, and autonomy. 


Image of José Manuel Muñoz
José Manuel Muñoz

University of Navarra

José M. Muñoz is a research fellow in neuroethics at the University of Navarra and the International Center for Neuroscience and Ethics (CINET) in Spain, and also the Academic Secretary of the Mexican Association of Neuroethics (AMNE) Board of Directors. His research interests are focused on the anthropological and ethical repercussions derived from the use of neurotechnologies, and the philosophical-conceptual challenges of the neurorights proposals.