Do you require help in finding the roots of your family tree DNA? Many of you are unaware, but there many genetic testing kits that can help you dig into your family heritage and ancestry. Another thing that might come as a surprise to many of you that as many as 26 million people have already taken this test.
These kits’ cost is substantially reducing, which may lead to genome sequencing to become a routine test. However, every great technology has its setbacks and flaws. A survey that covered a thousand participants stated several reasons regarding control and privacy of genetic data is the main reason why people deter from taking genome tests.
This article will take you through the recent privacy enhancements and how you can proceed with these tests safely.
Proceeding With Caution
In a hurry to take DNA tests, people often forget to consider their personal information security. What is happening with the genetic results afterward, and who all have control of it? What is the precise chain of custody for the DNA results?
Privacy and security are the key considerations, especially when every kind of data is at risk. The popular social media giant Facebook is grabbing the headlines every now and then for their privacy scandals.
In December 2018, people found that the company exempted its priority business partners from the privacy rules. Unfortunately, popular genealogy sites and DNA testing companies are involving in genetic data selling for earning more.
Most test-takers are unaware or do not fully comprehend what they agree on while registering with DNA testing companies. Recently, GlaxoSmithKline acquired $300 million stakes in 23and Me, one of the most prevalent genetic testing kit brands.
This deal was done in exchange for a DNA database of several million customers. Since the consumers are the first contributors to this data, shouldn’t they be part of these kinds of payouts?
Use of DNA Database
The genetic data results are beneficial for research and further medical developments, but selling them is unethical. However, scientific research is just one of the few uses of the DNA database.
In recent times, multiple cold criminal cases are becoming easier to crackdown with the DNA database. One such example is the Golden State Killer. In this case, the suspects were tracked after the crime scene DNA matched the DNA of a familiar through a pre-existing DNA database.
That’s not it. Your DNA results are not only helpful in catching suspects but also in many other ways. Several authoritarian governments and groups use it to discriminate and prosecute people. The non-government organizations are more likely to discriminate than other official establishments.
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) in the U.S. protects people against discrimination by health insurance companies.
The main concern here is how consumers can enjoy the benefits of DNA tests while preserving their privacy? If the company policies and laws are unreliable, and the business model of these companies engage in data selling, what is the solution?
What’s The New Approach?
The good news for all curious test-takers is that there’s a new approach. Rather than the policies, it is the technology that holds solutions concerning privacy. Nebula Genomics is one such name that adopts this approach.
Why is Nebula Genomics safer? The company aims to protect and secure the genetic database through developing and enhancing technology. With Nebula Genomics, the total control of the DNA database lies with the consumers.
With this new approach, Nebula Genomics is providing an opportunity for all test-takers to take DNA tests and share them safely. Read on to know how the company is embracing DNA privacy for better and safer DNA testing.
If you are willing to share your genetic data, it should be bound to a secure computing environment. Safe and secure sharing is one of the first and foremost steps you should be considering while authorizing access to any third-party.
The researchers or the third party must prepare and submit analysis pipelines that will be executed on your DNA data. Also, for genome-wide association research and other queries, many companies are employing a homomorphic encryption scheme. This scheme allows computing on encrypted data.
The genetic data and profiles are protected against hacking, unauthorized access, and misuse through tight encryption. This encryption scheme uses multiple keys that are distributed amongst several non-profit research organizations.
This encryption and multi-party distribution systems enhance security for the DNA database. Additionally, multi-party access control ensures that no single authority can have access to your genetic database.
Most companies will promise a road map to your DNA genetics, but companies with access control is a much better option.
Data ownership is one such step that will take you closer to gaining sole control over the personal database. The company irrevocably assigns permanent ownership to the customers over a publicly-readable ledger. How does this benefit test-takers?
Providing data ownership to customers enables transparent record maintenance of all data access permissions and requests. With this, the test-takers can easily understand how and who is accessing their genetic database.
With data ownership, you also have access to the researchers’ identities who are using your DNA database. This process helps to maintain transparency as well as accountability.
The last thing you want your genetic results is to undergo hacking, unauthorized access, and misuse. Learning about DNA motoring can be both informative and amusing. As more and more privacy concerns are growing among people, it is crucial to evoke helpful technologies.
With the right platform like Nebula Genomics, you can discover everything about yourself without worrying about privacy concerns. Moreover, you need to be cautious and thoroughly go through the agreements before registering a DNA test with any association.
Your DNA data is a piece of valuable and personal information, so why let the ancestry websites have it for free? Now that these privacy concerns are beaten down, you can enjoy DNA testing from the comfort of your home.