State lawmaker wants to ensure your DNA remains your private property
A New Jersey assemblyman wants to make sure that your DNA remains your own, private property.
With DNA testing companies like Ancestry.com and 23 and Me continuing to do brisk business, Democratic Assemblyman Roy Freiman says that he wants to make sure that the DNA information isn’t used for nefarious means.
“It’s your DNA. It doesn’t get more personal than this,” he says.
Many New Jerseyans send their DNA to companies like Ancestry and 23 and Me so that they can find out more about their genetics and where their ancestors are from. Freiman says that he is not trying to stop that, but he does want it regulated.
"I'm not trying to stop the technology, I'm not trying to put a halt to the industry, I'm trying to protect the people,” he says.
Freiman says that he and other state lawmakers want to make sure that the public knows their rights before the companies can use the DNA samples. He says that the testing companies potentially can have access to, "incredible amounts of medical-related information…Are you predisposed to heart disease? Diabetes? All kinds of information."
There is nothing currently that prevents these companies form selling the DNA information of customers to third parties. Freiman's bill would establish a DNA sample is a person’s exclusive property, and companies need their consent to use it.
"If we can solve and cure and diseases and do trending analysis and help find pockets of cancer then, that's really good stuff, right? Potentially, on the back end, why would you ever want to stop that? But on the other hand, shouldn't somebody have the right to be informed?” asks Freiman.
The bill is still a work in progress. Freiman says that he is consulting with law enforcement to make sure that the legislation takes into account criminal investigations.
"New Jersey, by the way, shouldn't be doing this. It should be at the federal level. Except you can't wait for it to be done at the federal level,” Freiman says.
Currently, costumers do have to opt-in online to have their DNA used for other purposes. But Freiman says that most of them do not give it much thought and agree to it anyway.
The company 23 and Me has said that if customers do not consent, none of their data is shared.