Court to hear argument on the privacy implications of "junk" DNA databases

The Ninth Circuit is hearing arguments today about the privacy implications of gathering and retaining "junk" DNA, which has been treated as merely identifying, like a fingerprint, and not unduly invasive. Modern genetics shows that it's possible to extract information about health, ancestry, and other potentially compromising traits. From the Electronic Frontier Foundation's blog:

In this case, Haskell v. Harris, the ACLU of Northern California is challenging the California law, arguing that it violates constitutional guarantees of privacy and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.  This is the first court hearing to address DNA privacy since the research on “junk” DNA has become widely known, and in its role as amicus, EFF asked the court to consider the ground-breaking new research.  The oral argument is open to the public at the federal courthouse at 95 7th Street in San Francisco.  The hearing starts at 10am, in courtroom 1 on the third floor.

Wednesday Hearing in 9th Circuit Tackles DNA Privacy


  1. Cory, pretty please with sugar on top (and with fresh raspberries, if you like) keep reporting on this one. Even if noone dropped a comment (yet). This is extremly significant both from a scientific as from a privacy POV. Non-coding sequences and DNA-ID stuff matters. Trouble is, it’s still very much science fiction for the most of our congeners to imagine a tricorder. But so was cheap and fast sequencing to lab staff some 10 yrs ago. Nowadays, I get spam (SPAM!) nearly every day which promises me fast and reliable sequencing, and the Oxford Nanopore MinION sequencer can be plugged to a USB port. I say, the future is here to stay.

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