Should You Submit Your DNA To A Database?

There are a variety of services that now make use of DNA sequencing; large databases of genetic material are therefore available. Some seem pretty innocuous, like the use of open-source genetic databases to aid people in their quest to know more about their ancestors.

Alleged serial killer Joseph James DeAngelo was caught because one of his relatives submitted their DNA to an open-source genetic database for researchers called GEDMatch, which law enforcement used to match to DNA left at one of the crime scenes.

It is, of course, a good thing that DeAngelo, the alleged “Golden State Killer,” was caught. But it should frighten you that police used an open-source genetic database to do it. As we’ve seen with so many other privacy overreaches, law enforcement uses questionable tactics on serial killers, child pornographers, and terrorists and later uses them on petty criminals.

The fact is, we don’t know how our genetic sequence will be used, who it will be accessed by, who will cross-reference it, or who it will be used to implicate now or many generations in the future. Even if you don’t plan to become a serial killer or even a petty criminal, it is likely a mistake to willingly hand over your DNA to people who promise to store it in a place where it is meant to be accessed. Unless you never leave your home you really can't "protect" your DNA, but you can still avoid paying someone to make you less safe.

There have been good movies and TV shows that highlight the use of DNA in questionable circumstances. For example, Black Mirror’s “USS Callister” told a story about a creepy man harvesting DNA from his coworkers’ coffee cups, napkins, and lollipops.

In the 1997 sf film Gattaca, compulsory participation in a DNA database enforces strict genetic standards. The film was directed and written by Andrew Niccol, and starred Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman and Jude Law.


(Employees provide a DNA sample upon entry)

In the film, the contents of this database determine who is allowed to fully participate in society. People who are brought into the world without genetic engineering form an underclass, whose very DNA denies them access.

See also these articles:

  - DNA Fingerprint Database For Workers Gattaca-Style Proposed
  - Gattaca-Style DNA Databank For 3 Million Americans
  - Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act Passed
  - Spartan DX Real-Time DNA Check
  - Eyedox Genetic Test To Exclude Color Blind
  - Boy Banned From School For Bad Genes
  - Court OK's DNA Collection Like 'Gattaca'
  - Kuwait Creates Mandatory DNA Database For Citizens
  - Is Genetic Testing At Businesses A Bad Idea?
Via Motherboard.

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