Andreas Häuselmann and Eduard Fosch-Villaronga, researchers from eLaw – Center for Law and Digital Technologies, recently presented an article on the legal and regulatory aspects of emotion data at the Affective Computing + Intelligent Interaction (ACII ’23) Conference held at MIT. This conference, held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab, is a premier international forum for research on affective and multimodal human-machine interaction and systems.
Emotions are an inherent part of human behavior and communication. With the advancement of technology, emotions have become machine-readable through the field of “affective computing.” Affective computing systems can now capture emotion data, which is information about a person’s inner emotional state. This data can include physiological measurements, facial expressions, speech, and self-reports of feelings.
The article titled “EU law and emotion data,” authored by Andreas Häuselmann, Alan M. Sears, Lex Zard, and Eduard Fosch-Villaronga, addresses the legal implications and challenges surrounding emotion data processing within the EU’s legal framework. Despite the sensitive nature of emotion data, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) does not categorize it as special data, resulting in a lack of comprehensive protection. The article discusses different approaches to affective computing and their relevance to processing special data under the GDPR. It also highlights potential tensions with data protection principles and the harm that processing emotion data may have on individuals. Additionally, it covers the AI Act proposal and the new obligations and transparency requirements introduced by the Digital Services Act (DSA) for online platforms utilizing emotion data.
In addition to the article, Andreas Häuselmann hosted a tutorial on the potential impact of the AI Act on affective computing research and development. The tutorial aimed to provide information about the AI Act proposal to practitioners in the affective computing community and also gather their concerns and responses to communicate to EU policymakers. The findings from the tutorial will be compiled and shared with lawmakers to address the deficiencies in the AI Act proposal.
Furthermore, Andreas Häuselmann participated in a panel discussion on ethical affective computing in practice with industry representatives from Google, Microsoft, and HumeAI, as well as Professor Sherry Turkle from MIT. This discussion aimed to address the ethical considerations in affective computing and explore ways to ensure ethical practices in this field.
If you are interested in accessing the article or the tutorial materials, you can follow the provided links. The authors acknowledge the support from the SAILS Program, an AI initiative at Leiden University, and funding from the Safe and Sound project, which is part of the European Union’s Horizon-ERC program.