Consuming Genetic Technologies: Ethical and Legal Considerations, Cambridge Univ. Press, forthcoming
9 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2014 Last revised: 24 Nov 2020
Date Written: April 1, 2020
As genetic sequencing technologies become faster, cheaper, and more informative, they are making their way into many different facets of our lives. We are becoming accustomed to using and sharing our own genetic information, whether it be to investigate ancestry, to further medical research, to detect diseases, establish paternity, or to inform our reproductive choices. It is not hard to imagine a future in which the genetic information of others, public figures in particular, makes it into the public discourse. The media industry will be ready to capitalize on this interest, and it may only be a matter of time before genetic disclosures are published alongside candid photographs of celebrities on tabloid pages. Genetic paparazzi with swabs and sterile tubes in hand will seek out and analyze discarded genetic materials from the celebrities they pursue, publishing the results, and lawsuits will follow.
This Chapter provides an overview of the legal landscape in which genetic paparazzi lawsuits will unfold and explores the legal questions that genetic paparazzi will raise about the nature and scope of genetic privacy. We begin with the anticipated emergence of genetic paparazzi and two hypotheticals based on real events to illustrate the legal questions that will arise when genetic paparazzi scenarios reach the courtroom. The Chapter concludes with some thoughts on how the choices that courts make in genetic paparazzi cases might impact how we think about genetic privacy, for better or worse.
Keywords: DNA, genetics, privacy, information, law
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