Peter Dizikes at Salon.com writes “Your DNA is a Snitch,” about privacy concerns surrounding genetic testing. Peter contacted me a little while ago and we talked about some of my thoughts on the topic. My opinion on the security measures at genetic testing companies was included in the story:
Early-adopting customers tend to agree [that genetic testing companies can protect personal information]. “They have every incentive to keep information private,” says Blaine Bettinger, a law student and genetics blogger in New York state and a 23andMe customer.” A security breach would be devastating for those companies.” Certainly well-funded firms like Navigenics and 23andMe can devote substantial resources to data protection.
I wrote a longer post about the importance of testing company protections last November (see “Security at Navigenics and 23andMe.”)
The Salon.com article is very well-written, and looks at numerous aspects of the issue. There are a number of other people that I highly respect quoted in the article, including Misha Angrist, Hank Greely, and Linda Avey, among others. Misha mentioned on his blog today, too; see “Peek-a-boo I sequence you” (Misha, I usually don’t announce my law school career unless I know it’s safe!).
I agree that such companies do have incentives to keep information private. However, I would not count of data protection laws to prevents breaches. Its no secret that the government has a huge interested the area of genetic testing as a means of keeping tabs on people. We have already seen biometric data be introduced to passports.
With the ‘anti-terror’ laws that are supposedly in the interests of the public we have surrended our right to privacy and data protection. It is not security breaches that concern me on this topic therefore… but what the government may decide to do behind closed doors without informing people in the interest of ‘national security’.
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