These days, mapping someone’s entire DNA isn’t science fiction. Full genome sequencing is possible and it’s not even that expensive. As a result, many new privacy concerns have been raised by this new technology. Genome sequencing could potentially take identity theft to nightmarish heights.
In an age where it seems like our personal informationis becoming more vulnerable by the day, it’s important that we go about finding ways to protect sensitive personal data. Thankfully, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues has stepped in and released a thorough set of recommendations for how we should handle the future of affordable genome sequencing.
Your Entire Genetic Sequence from a Used Cup of Coffee
It’s incredible how far our technology has advanced. While genome sequencing used to be an idea rooted in science fiction, it’s now become a common reality.
In fact, it’s been privatized and made decently affordable. EasyDNA, based in California, is just one of several companies that can sequence somebody’s DNA without costing you a small fortune. For an inexpensive fee, companies like EasyDNA can expose a whole lot of personal information, ranging from heritage to health issues.
Many people are worried about the implications of this technology. Imagine a world where anyone can grab your used coffee cup out of the trash and then have access to your entire DNA sequence for the price of a few thousand bucks.
Fortunately, we’ve still got a lot of bridges to cross before genome sequencing is as easy as a home pregnancy test. This means that there’s plenty of time to establish safeguards for personal privacy.
Recommended Safety Measures for Genome Sequencing
The Presidential Commission has published a report suggesting important regulations that should surround the private DNA mapping industry, to ensure that this sort of technology isn’t used for criminal means.
As such, the Commission recommends a few of the following regulations be put in place. According to NPR:
“The group…’recommends strong baseline protections for whole genome sequence data to protect individual privacy and data security while also leaving ample room for data sharing opportunities that propel scientific and medical progress.'”
Sounds like a great idea! But what exactly does it mean?
- You can’t sequence someone’s DNA without their consent. This means that nobody will be able to snag your coffee cup out of the trash and then have access to anything like your ancestry or your potential health risks.
- These regulations have to cover the sequencing of whole genomes, no matter how or where the sample was obtained.
- If you’re going to get your DNA mapped, you have to be informed that you might get results that are potentially worrisome. It’s not uncommon for genome sequencing to reveal depressing health issues that you weren’t necessarily looking for.
With the tremendous volumes of private information that could be revealed by genome sequencing, it’s good to know that privacy protection is part of the dialogue.
Plenty of our sensitive personal information is out there, and there are a lot of ways to keep your various pieces of information safe and secure. Tell us in the comments, how do you think you’ll keep your genetic information safe?
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