5 votes

The federal government's My Health Record system is capable of storing genomic information. which could turbocharge medical research but has intensified privacy and security fears.

4 comments

  1. [4]
    cfabbro Link
    I don't have any skin in the game or any real opinion on the matter, but I'm just curious; What possible harm could potentially come from storing genomic information by any modern Western...

    I don't have any skin in the game or any real opinion on the matter, but I'm just curious; What possible harm could potentially come from storing genomic information by any modern Western governments or even private entities? I have heard all sorts of other claims about 23andMe and other genetic testing services being "bad" for privacy and "risky" for the person being tested... but never actually seen anyone explain why they think that is the case or why they think their fears are in any way realistic (rather than paranoid).

    1 vote
    1. [3]
      spctrvl Link Parent
      I think the main fear, at least in the US, is that it'll lead to genetic discrimination like in Gattaca. Basically, if a company knows you have the genes for susceptibility to breast cancer, for...

      I think the main fear, at least in the US, is that it'll lead to genetic discrimination like in Gattaca. Basically, if a company knows you have the genes for susceptibility to breast cancer, for instance, they might not hire you over another equally qualified candidate because of the risk, higher insurance premiums, and so on. For those living under more authoritarian governments, it's also a nearly-foolproof means of identification, so a database combined with quick genetic profiling would make it easier to track your movements and such. Of course, with cellphones being as common as they are that's nearly a moot point.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        cfabbro Link Parent
        Yeah, in the US given it doesn't have universal healthcare like the rest of the Western world and has insane employment laws that favor employers far more than employees, I guess I can see an...

        Yeah, in the US given it doesn't have universal healthcare like the rest of the Western world and has insane employment laws that favor employers far more than employees, I guess I can see an argument against it. And I definitely understand the risks with authoritarian and/or potentially genocidal developing world governments... however in Australia and most other Western countries with sane employment laws and health coverage I still don't really see the issue, especially given the clear potential benefits to health services and scientific research (especially if done correctly by anonymizing the databases).

        1. spctrvl Link Parent
          There's also life insurance: according to the article, it's legal in Australia for the underwriters to use genetic information like this when setting up a policy.

          There's also life insurance: according to the article, it's legal in Australia for the underwriters to use genetic information like this when setting up a policy.

          2 votes