The Technologies of Race: Big Data, Privacy and the New Racial Bioethics

38 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2018 Last revised: 15 Oct 2018

Date Written: 2018


Advancements in genetic technology have resurrected long discarded conceptualizations of “race” as a biological reality. The rise of modern biological race thinking – as evidenced in health disparity research, personal genomics, DNA criminal forensics, and bio-databanking - not only is scientifically unsound but portends the future normalization of racial inequality. This Article articulates a constitutional theory of shared humanity, rooted in the substantive due process doctrine and Ninth Amendment, to counter the socio-legal acceptance of modern genetic racial differentiation. It argues that state actions that rely on biological racial distinctions undermine the essential personhood of individuals subjected to such taxonomies, thus violating a protected privacy interest in avoiding race-based biological classifications by the government.

The ascendance of modern de jure genetic racial classifications has received only minimal attention thus far in the literature, with prominent scholars such as Dorothy Roberts addressing the socio-political roots of the phenomenon. This Article contributes to the discussion by further developing a constitutional framework by which to challenge state-sanctioned biological racial taxonomies.

Keywords: health law, bioethics, evidence, constitutional law, science/technology and law, interdisc/multidisc, race and the law, civil rights, social justice

Suggested Citation

Sundquist, Christian, The Technologies of Race: Big Data, Privacy and the New Racial Bioethics (2018). Annals of Health Law, Vol. 27, 2018 ; Albany Law School Research Paper No. 16 for 2018-2019. Available at SSRN:

Christian Sundquist (Contact Author)

Albany Law School ( email )

80 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12208
United States

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