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

See all articles by Jens Omdal

Jens Omdal

Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

Date Written: April 20, 2020

Abstract

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

Omdal, Jens, The Battle Between Privacy and Progress: How Genomic Companies Plan to Move Into Personalized Healthcare and What It Means for Your Privacy (April 20, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3581331 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3581331

Jens Omdal (Contact Author)

Loyola University New Orleans College of Law ( email )

7214 St. Charles Ave., Box 901
Campus Box 901
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States

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