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WikiLeaks Sheds Light on Genetic Espionage

If you thought the WikiLeaks documents had nothing to do with science, think again. A pair of cables caught the interest of Genomics Law Report's Dan Vorhaus — one alleging that Chinese government officials are spying on Decode Genetics, and the second revealing that the US State Department's intelligence gathering work on key world leaders includes requests for "biometric information" like health information, fingerprints, and DNA. The WikiLeaks documents don't disclose why the State Department wants this information or if any of it has been successfully obtained, Vorhaus says, but they do serve as a reminder that the law surrounding the collection and testing of such data remains "extremely murky." Concerns about surreptitious testing and so-called "genome hacking" have grown, Vorhaus says, and that GINA offers limited protection against such use of genetic material. "The leaked State Department communiqués raise important questions to which we do not have clear answers. In particular: under what circumstances is the surreptitious collection of biometric data, including genetic data, appropriate?" Vorhaus asks. As the price of genetic sequencing continues to fall, and genetic information becomes increasingly accessible, it's time to push for a legal framework that will protect people against unauthorized use of their genetic code, he adds.

The Scan

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