Personal Views

On losing your molecular privacy

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.319.7225.1651 (Published 18 December 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:1651
  1. Frank Lohr, postdoctoral fellow
  1. Durham, North Carolina

    Have you read 1984 lately? If not, don't bother. With surveillance cameras being installed at a frantic pace and personal customer data being traded among companies as a commodity, the vision of permanent surveillance has more or less materialised in our daily lives, leaving Orwell's prose somewhat outdated.


    Embedded Image

    Each member of the US military has to provide a DNA sample

    (Credit: JIM MCKNIGHT/AP PHOTO)

    There is, however, a process that may have an even more profound impact. What is it about? The attack on your blueprint, your genes. Forty six years after James Watson and Francis Crick determined the precise structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA, which is the medium that carries all our genetic information, we have come close to the total biological information age. While internet privacy is a hot topic, protection of information about your genetic makeup is not yet considered a major problem. This might be a dangerous misconception Our lives may be changed by biomedical progress more …

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