A member of the House Intelligence Committee have warned against sharing health and DNA information with companies such as 23andMe over concerns of bio-weapons
Representative Jason Crow (D-CO,) a member of the House Intelligence Committee, is sounding the alarm on giving up health and DNA information to corporations such as Ancestry and 23andMe.
“You can actually take someone’s DNA, take, you know, their medical profile and you can target a biological weapon that will kill that person or take them off the battlefield or make them inoperable,” he warns.
While this concern may sound like science fiction, Crow is convinced that “near-peer adversaries” (presumably in reference to Russia and China) have the capacity to use DNA data to target individuals at the cellular level.
Crow also discusses how the expectation of privacy has diminished.
“You can’t have a discussion about this without talking about privacy and the protection of commercial data because expectations of privacy have degraded over the last 20 years,” he says. “Young folks actually have very little expectation of privacy, that’s what the polling and the data show.”
Mostly, it is younger people who volunteer their personal and health data to these companies however it is not exclusive to the demographic.
Crow’s concerns boil down to the idea of these companies either selling data to or being hacked by hostile foreign powers for the purpose of developing bio-weapons to target individuals.
However, critics may consider this unrealistic due to the fact that individual bio-weapons would have to be made to target different, small-scale groups–meaning the execution of such a strategy would take a great deal of time and resources for ultimately a lesser payoff than, say, leaking a virus.
Whether his concerns are science fiction paranoia or legitimate, Crow is the only one on the House Intelligence Committee to raise them. Still, perhaps it is wise not to volunteer your most intimate data to major corporations.