The Battle Between Privacy and Progress: How Genomic Companies Plan to Move Into Personalized Healthcare and What It Means for Your Privacy
12 Pages Posted: 15 May 2020
Date Written: April 20, 2020
Genomic companies like 23andMe market themselves to consumers as the instrument to revealing a previously hidden branch of a family tree. The user provides 23andMe, or any other genomic company, with a sample of their DNA, usually in the form of a cheek swab, and the company will process the DNA and provide you with a report of your heritage. This process comes at a small fee for the user, and once the report is received and the money paid, the transaction is complete. Right? Wrong, there is so much more going on than that! Once you provide the company with your DNA, they are free to store it in their database, provide it to other entities, like the FBI, or sell it to the highest bidder, like your health insurance company. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Studies have estimated that if only 2% of the population contributes to a DNA test, then virtually everyone’s genetic information will be represented in the data. This, in effect, carries the ball beyond the bounds of the third party doctrine because with such a minute sample size, genomics companies are capable of creating a database that reflects the genetic information of the entire population. So, if your cousin, your third cousin, or even someone further removed from your family tree participates in 23andMe’s long – information gathering – con, then chances are, they have your DNA too.
Keywords: DNA, 23andMe, Gene, Third Party Doctrine, GEDmatch, Golden State Rapist, Privacy, Misappropriation, Progress
JEL Classification: K10, K11, K14, K19, K21, K29, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation