Universiteit Leiden

nl en

eLaw researchers present at MIT

Andreas Häuselmann and Eduard Fosch-Villaronga from eLaw - Center for Law and Digital Technologies wrote an article on the legal and regulatory aspects of emotion data and presented it to the Affective Computing + Intelligent Interaction (ACII ‘23) Conference held at MIT. Andreas Häuselmann also hosted a tutorial on the potential impact of the AI Act on affective computing research and development and participated in a panel discussion on ethical affective computing in practice.

The conference Affective Computing + Intelligent Interaction (ACII ‘23) held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab is the premier international forum for research on affective and multimodal human-machine interaction and systems.

Andreas Häuselmann

Emotions are inherent to humanity and play a significant role in human behaviour, communication, and interaction. Until recently, emotions could not be captured and processed automatedly; they were reserved for each individual and the people with whom they wanted to share them. With advancements in 'computing that relates to, arises from, or deliberately influences emotions' (affective computing), emotions became machine-readable. Affective computing (AC) systems can now capture emotion data. Emotion data is information about a person’s inner emotional state, such as their subjective response to a thing, person, or situation. It can encompass quantitative and qualitative data, such as physiological measurements, facial expressions, speech, and self-reports of feelings captured through technical means.

Eduard Fosch Villaronga

Article ‘EU law and emotion data’

Andreas Häuselmann, Alan M. Sears, Lex Zard, and Eduard Fosch-Villaronga wrote an article highlighting what constitutes emotion data and the scope and limitations of EU law that aims to protect the persons to whom emotion data belongs. Entitled 'EU law and emotion data', this article sheds light on the legal implications and challenges surrounding emotion data processing within the EU’s legal framework. Despite the sensitive nature of emotion data, the GDPR does not categorise it as special data, resulting in a lack of comprehensive protection. The article discusses the nuances of different approaches to affective computing and their relevance to processing special data under the GDPR. Moreover, it points to potential tensions with data protection principles, such as fairness and accuracy. The article also highlights some of the consequences, including harm, that processing of emotion data may have for individuals concerned. Additionally, it discusses how the AI Act proposal intends to regulate affective computing. Finally, the article outlines the new obligations and transparency requirements introduced by the DSA for online platforms utilising emotion data. The article aims at raising awareness among the affective computing community about the applicable legal requirements when developing AC systems intended for the EU market, or when working with study participants located in the EU. Also, it stresses the importance of protecting the fundamental rights of individuals even when the law struggles to keep up with technological developments that capture sensitive emotion data.

Tutorial ‘The potential impact of the AI Act on affective computing research and development’

The tutorial hosted by Andreas Häuselmann and Deniz Iren, Associate Professor at the Department of Information Science of Open Universiteit, aimed to achieve two goals: (1) providing distilled information about the AI Act proposal to the practitioners through the lens of affective computing, and (2) communicating the concerns and responses of the community to the EU policymakers. The tutorial was split in two parts. Part 1 included a presentation about the AI Act proposal, outlining the most relevant provisions for AC community and highlighting potential impacts on affective computing research and practice. In Part 2, participants discussed their perceptions, concerns, and proposed mitigation strategies with regard to the AI Act proposal. The findings will be compiled and made available to the lawmakers in order to mitigate some of the deficiencies currently contained in the AI Act proposal.

Panel discussion ‘Ethical Affective Computing in Practice’

Andreas Häuselmann participated in the panel discussion on ethical affective computing in practice, together with industry representatives from Google, Microsoft and HumeAI. Also, Sherry Turkle, Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT, joined the discussion. 

Access to the paper

You can access the paper by following this link.

Access to tutorial materials

If you want to have access to our work and related documents, you can do so by following these links:


The authors thank Joost Batenburg for providing support through the SAILS Programme, a Leiden University wide AI initiative. The paper has also been partly funded by the Safe and Sound project, a project that received funding from the European Union’s Horizon-ERC programme (Grant Agreement No. 101076929).                     

This website uses cookies.  More information.