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How Much of a Threat?

The need for a provision aimed at shoring up genomic data security within a bill passed by the US Senate is being questioned, Science reports.

The bill, which the Senate passed in a 68-32 vote last week, aims to strengthen US competition against China in by investing hundreds of billions of dollars in research and development. As Science notes, one part of the bill focuses on concerns that China may be collecting genomic data from US citizens that could potentially be used against the US and calls for the National Institutes of Health to work with intelligence agencies to develop a framework for managing that as a national security risk.

Science adds that the NIH previously has argued that its current security approach is adequate and that in a recent response to Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Service, which asked the agency to add further access controls to genomic data, NIH expressed doubts as to whether the threat was real. Science further reports that both the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) and Association of American Medical Colleges have also questioned the severity of the risk. ASHG in particular in a letter to lawmakers in the House of Representatives called for the provision to be removed from the bill and for Congress to commission a panel to "determine and document what national threats exist, if any."