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posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday September 06 2017, @02:22AM   Printer-friendly
from the we-know-what-you-look-like dept.

Anonymity continues to die a little every day:

The physical traits predicted from genome sequence data may be sufficient to identify anonymous individuals in the absence of other information, according to a study set to appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week.

After looking for links between physical phenotypes and whole-genome sequence data for more than 1,000 individuals from a range of ancestral groups, researchers from the US and Singapore took a crack at predicting biometric traits based on genetic data with the help of a newly developed algorithm. In a group of de-identified individuals, they reported, the algorithm made it possible to identify a significant proportion of individuals based on predictions of three-dimensional facial structure, ethnicity, height, weight, and other traits.

"By associating de-identified genomic data with phenotypic measurements of the contributor, this work challenges current conceptions of genomic privacy," senior author Craig Venter, of Human Longevity and the J. Craig Venter Institute, and his co-authors wrote. "It has significant ethical and legal implications on personal privacy, the adequacy of informed consent, the viability and value of de-identification of data, the potential for police profiling, and more."

[...] [Genome] sequences [...] are not currently protected as identifying data under the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act's Safe Harbor method for ensuring anonymous and de-identified patient information.

Also at Bio-IT World, PRNewswire, and San Diego Union Tribune.

Previously: Creating Wanted Posters from DNA Samples

Related: EFF to Supreme Court: The Fourth Amendment Covers DNA Collection
Kuwait Creating Mandatory DNA Database of All Citizens, Residents--and Visitors
Massive DNA Collection Campaign in Xinjiang, China
Routine Whole Genome Sequencing: Not Scary?


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  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday September 06 2017, @04:29AM

    by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Wednesday September 06 2017, @04:29AM (#564033) Journal

    They probably need to refine the technique more. However, another approach would be to sequence the genomes of beauty queens, models, sex icons, and the like, and then analyze those genomes to investigate any similarities that could result in the desired traits. Of course, some would scream about cultural standards of beauty, unrealistic expectations, and racial bias. But if you are creating designer babies for the rich, you probably won't give a shit about all that because you are operating in a gray area outside of the long reach of the West, bankrolled by billionaires. Also, collecting more and more genomic data can help to counteract bias and deliver whatever the customers want.

    Yes, I foresee a bright and brave future for this area of bioengineering. Have it your way.

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