Genome Hackers 2

Kashmir Hill writes in the American Forbes Magazine:

The next big privacy battle may be over who has access to your DNA.

It is becoming surprisingly easy for someone to test your DNA without permission. Every drop of saliva you leave on a Styrofoam coffee cup or hair follicle that falls to the floor contains DNA that in theory can be tested for everything from ancestry to disease risk. In 2009 New Scientist writer Michael Reilly “hacked” a colleague’s genome using samples from a water glass. He found labs willing to extract DNA from the glass and amplify it, producing enough DNA to send off to a direct-to-consumer genetic testing company. Within weeks Reilly had results predicting his colleague was at risk for baldness, psoriasis and glaucoma.

Amazingly, there is no [American] federal law against surreptitious DNA testing. There is also little regulation of what consumer genetics companies such as 23andMe and Pathway Genomics can and can’t do with their data. All this frightens lawyer and privacy crusader Jeremy Gruber, who heads the nonprofit Council for Responsible Genetics in New York. While people can replace a stolen credit card, “you simply cannot get a new genome,” he says. “We’re only at the beginning of discovering the risks to genetic privacy.”