Consumer advocate organizations, such as the Center for Digital Democracy, are criticizing neuromarketing's potentially invasive technology.
The privacy concerns come from consumers being unaware of the purpose of the research, how the results will be used, or haven't even given consent in the first place. Some are even afraid that neuromarketers will have the ability to read a consumer's mind and put them at "risk of discrimination, stigmatization, and coercion."
However, industry associations across the world have taken measures to address the issue around privacy. For example, the Neuromarketing Science & Business Association has established general principles and ethical guidelines surrounding best practices for researchers to adhere to.
Below are some guidelines that intend to mitigate the risk of researchers breaching a participant's privacy, if they want their research to be academically recognized.
- Do not bring any kind of prejudice in research methodology, results, and participants.
- Do not take advantage of participants’ lack of awareness in the field.
- Communicate what participants should expect during research (methodologies).
- Be honest with results.
- Participant data should remain confidential.
- Reveal data collection techniques to participants.
- Do not coerce participants to join research and allow them to leave when they want.
Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, for instance, claims that neuromarketing is "having an effect on individuals that individuals are not informed about" and though there has not historically been regulation on adult advertising due to adults having defense mechanisms to discern what is true and untrue, regulations should now be placed: "if the advertising is now purposely designed to bypass those rational defenses . . . protecting advertising speech in the marketplace has to be questioned." (Source: Wikipedia)