Keeping control over your own DNA

Auteur
Pieter van Boheemen

Drive your car in almost any city, and your license plate will be recorded by cameras. The bike is, therefore, a nice privacy-saving alternative. But, keeping your DNA under wraps is not so easy. So, it's no wonder intelligence services are desperate to capture and preserve that information.

The Minister of internal affairs Plasterk, has stated that he wants to provide the AIVD (Dutch Secret Services) the capability to hold their own and private DNA-database. Is this reality or a bad April Fool's joke?

Private AIVD DNA databases
Plasterk solemnly swears this DNA harvesting endeavour will only be executed on a small scale. But, mightn't it eventually be tempting to use that information for other reasons? A little research into genetic health sounds innocent enough.

But what about nationwide genetic testing? When it comes to recording genetic similarities between terrorism suspects—is that ok? Ah, while we're at it, perhaps this information is worth something in the grand, international haggling game that intelligence services play with each other around the world.

Your DNA profile might get stored
In the UK, 10% of the population's DNA is already in the hands of the government. And in the US, about a million people have had their DNA recorded. Dutch people who were curious to discover their own DNA profile and have used DNA analysis services (like 23andMe) may assume that their information (thanks to the Patriot Act) is also on record in the US.

It is quite obvious that, with DNA testing, crimes can be solved and innocent suspects can be acquitted. But with today's broad reaching “terrorism” argument, it appears that vast databases of just about anything can be built in the name of combating this evil ghost. Without a clear policy about the sustainability of this kind of information, who has control over it, and how it may be used—it will be a free-for-all in the future.

The advent of the Internet has led to a system of total freedom for each individual. I hope our DNA continues to enjoy the same freedom, and that this is all just a bad April Fool's joke.

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About the author

  • Pieter is a hacker, artist, engineer, researcher and teacher driving forward Free & Open Source Technologies as a catalyzer for social innovation.