There are some uncomfortable realities that the world will need to face in the coming years regarding what we, as sovereign human beings, own about ourselves.
For instance, Facebook, Google, and others are heavily invested in decoding your online behavior. They spend countless resources attempting to quantify every little move you make online, whether it be with your cursor, your voice, or even your eyes in order to better serve their advertisers. By dissecting your online behavior and customs, they are able to better exploit your personality to sell you stuff you might not need.
And don’t get me started on Alexa and Google Home.
If we are allowing Facebook all of this access to the very essence of our character, what exactly are we handing over when we send DNA samples to companies like 23 And Me?
Concerns over the safety and sanctity of giving corporations access to your genetic code have been around from the very moment that the possibility came into existence. Now, scientists are giving some strange advice to those who may be rightfully uncomfortable.
In a new paper published in the journal Science on Thursday, researchers suggest that the best way to protect genetic information might be for all Americans to deposit their data in a universal, nationwide DNA database. The paper is being published by researchers from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Center for Genetic Privacy and Identity in Community Settings, a major center for the study of genetic privacy.
Concerns about who can gain access to genetic information gathered by consumer genetic-testing websites has been on the climb since April, when police made an arrest in a decades-old serial-murder case in California. To ensnare the alleged Golden State Killer, investigators trawled an open-source database popular with genealogy hobbyists to search for relatives of possible suspects. Police found matches, and then got their man.Advertisement - story continues below
If enhancing privacy by creating a giant database of people’s DNA sounds counterintuitive, the group’s point is that it’s already too late to prevent mass exposure.
Given the glut of information that one could glean from even the simplest processing of a person’s DNA, there are concerns over this information being used by less than scrupulous persons in any number of industries.
Have a genetic predisposition to alcoholism or addiction? Let’s show you more ads for Johnny Walker. Are you likely to suffer from certain ailments? Let’s make sure we get our drug name in your ear early.
We must ask ourselves; is this the sort of information we want everyone, or even anyone else to have?