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New Privacy Coalition

Three genetic testing companies have formed a group to lobby Congress regarding genetic privacy, The Hill reports.

Ancestry, 23andMe, and Helix formed the Coalition for Genetic Data Protection, as lawmakers are increasingly addressing questions of data privacy, it adds. The Golden State Killer case in which law enforcement relied on genetic genealogy to track down a suspect in a series of rapes and murders has in particular highlighted the issue of genetic privacy and what companies in the field do to protect it.

"Given the high focus that data privacy has currently in Congress, it was important for companies who are doing right by their customers on data privacy make their voice heard," Steve Haro, a principal at Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas and executive director of the Coalition for Genetic Data Protection, tells The Hill.

With this new coalition, Haro says the firms would be able to influence how Congress goes about, if it does at all, regulating the field.

Last year, 23andMe, Ancestry, and Helix, as well as other firms, adopted a set of guidelines outlining when they would share customer data with other companies or law enforcement officials. The Hill notes that the firms are open to other organizations joining their coalition, as long as they adhere to those guidelines.