Tagged With dna privacy

You probably wouldn't hand out your social security number without having a pretty good idea of how that information was going to be used, right? That would be dumb. It's extremely sensitive information. And yet, the consumer genetic testing market is booming thanks to people readily giving up another piece of their identity: their genetic code.

In 2012, the artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg exhibited a work that predicted a terrifying future: She extracted DNA from discarded hairs, gum and cigarette butts and used it to predict what those anonymous strangers might look like. The traces of ourselves that we are constantly leaving behind, she thought, could unleash an era of biological surveillance in which little more than a hair could reveal a person's identity and location.

Hidden within our genetic code is a vast treasure trove of personal information about our health, relationships, personality and family history. Given all the sensitive details that a DNA test can reveal, you would hope that the people and programs handling that information would be vigilant in safeguarding its security. But it turns out that isn't necessarily the case.