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Like, Comment, Share: Should You Share Your Genetic Data Online?

Credit: kentoh/adobe

Credit: kentoh/adobe

By Kathleen Gray

The culture of sharing our private details online is extending to health and ancestry data generated by genome testing. What are the benefits and what are the risks?

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Sharing your personal facts and feelings with friends and strangers is a way of life for many people in online social networks. Think about the increase from one million to one billion Facebook users over the past decade, and the many other social media sites that have hundreds of millions of users. But who would want to share their personal genomic data this way, and why?

Testing Times

At least a dozen online personal genomic testing services now market directly to consumers over the internet: 23andMe, AncestrybyDNA, EasyDNA, FamilyTreeDNA, Genetrack, GTLDNA and Mapmygenome, are just a few. Such services claim to offer accuracy, insight and trustworthiness for just a few hundred dollars in many cases.

There’s no need for a referral from a health professional either. Simply provide your credit card details online, ship some saliva or other tissue to a laboratory and receive your test results and interpretive information by email.

Tests vary and their costs vary, and there is no doubt that popular demand is steadily rising. A 2012 study estimated that up to one million people had used personal genomic testing services already. In 2015 one firm alone, Mapmygenome, estimated that it will have 100 million clients by 2030.

Self-Quantification

The social movement known as the “Quantified Self” – whose slogan is “self knowledge...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.