With medical technology growing by leaps and bounds, along with a complete mapping of the human genome, testing your DNA and finding out where your ancestors came from has never been more cheap or easy. For about a hundred dollars, a person can send a small sample to a company, and a short while later, they can find out ethnic mixtures and ancestry with surprising accuracy. If it all seems too good to be true, it might just be.
What would you do if the place you sent off your DNA to was also selling your genetic information to a third party, which then used this information to discriminate against you? Well, a recent report from TechDirt is saying exactly that. The article points out that while “health care insurers are forbidden by federal law from using DNA data to deny coverage… there’s nothing at all in the law preventing employers from using DNA data to screen out potential employees who might be a net loss on company-provided insurance plans.” This certainly raises a couple of questions, the first and foremost is something like “isn’t this nearly identical to one of the plot points from the 1997 dystopian science fiction film Gattaca?” The answer is a resounding, yes.
Sure, it’s possible, but would they actually do such a thing? The article points out that this is already happening. A woman name Theresa Morelli, when applying for disability insurance quickly had it canceled when a third party shared that her father had Huntington’s disease. “The applicant herself wasn’t diagnosed with Huntington’s carrier status, but she suffered exclusion on the basis of a genetic predisposition in her family.” This is possible because sharing your DNA with these companies gives them a perpetual license to use and share your DNA as they see fit.
The upside is that for about a hundred dollars, you can have an unparalleled look into your genetic makeup and background. On one hand, so will anyone else.