A DNA dystopia may actually be on the horizon sooner than you think, according to a recent in-depth paper by law professors Liza Vertinsky and Janiv Heled-of the University of Maryland and Georgia State University or – for The conversation. In it, they draw attention to groups they describe as “genetic paparazzi.” In other words, there are those who would make it theirs mission to hunt down the DNA of notable figures of public interest such as celebrities and politicians for their own benefit.
Maybe it’s the inundation with blockbuster spy movies throughout history that has led to an onslaught of DNA paranoia — you know, that conspiracy-like fear of taking a 23andMe test because “you don’t want the government to take it.” gets” — but for these legal experts, such concerns are not as crazy as they might seem. Heck, we’ve even seen politicians like that Emmanuel Macron are known to reject a Russian COVID-19 test for fear of DNA theft.
The pair argue that growing mainstream interest in genetic engineering could pave the way for more incentives to get hold of some of that famous DNA. Legal experts believe this is accelerating at a pace that the legal system cannot keep up with. In fact, there have been clear signs of this for some years now.
futurism noted using the example of Madonnawho lost her attempt to prevent DNA-laden objects from her (like her underwear and hairbrush) in 2018 be auctioned. Attempts to protect their genetic data have been observed for over a decade, with essay The Conversation noting that cleaning crews’ obsession with sterilizing their dressing rooms is not the case stupid paranoia Once perceived, however, was actually the valid ringing of alarm bells about the danger of DNA theft.
The rampant obsession with owning celebrity-touched things is nothing new, both publications mention. Of historical objects gladly sold Justin Timberlake‘s half-eaten french toast and Britney Spears‘ allegedly pregnancy test to more recent examples like giving away a strand of Marilyn Monroe’s hair Kim Kardashian– the phenomenon shows no signs of slowing down. Not only is the whole endeavor distasteful and prompting necessary discussions about people’s unhealthy possession in public, it’s also dangerous, according to these experts. Such items (if authentic) could contain usable genetic material.
“Furthermore, fears of using secretly collected genetic material for reproductive purposes through in vitro gametogenesis are becoming more than just paranoia as genetic technologies advance,” the couple wrote. Maybe Drake wasn’t fully crazy about putting hot sauce in his used condoms to then “kill his sperm” (well, maybe just a little bit). What this worryingly means is that there is untapped potential for the use of such stolen genetic material for reproduction, most likely without the individual’s knowledge or consent. While the theft of a person’s DNA is considered “interference” with their consent and is undoubtedly a hurtful and “deeply personal” interference, Vertinsky and Heled note that there are actually very few laws enacted with the intention of to protect the interests of such genes paparazzi victims.
Resolving this space in the legal system must become more important than ever as DNA sequencing continues its heavy commercialization, Futurism noted. And it’s true. Airbnb and 23andMe team up to harness your DNA for holiday recommendations, digiD8 with your DNA data to tell you who is out of date and even Spotify partnership with ancestral DNA to bring you DNA optimized playlists are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the genetic game. But it gets scarier. What prevents our biometric data from falling into the wrong hands when there is no real law of structure?
Yuval Harariknown for his infamous book Sapiens: A Brief History of MankindHe made that clear in 2021 when he warned that people could soon be hacked by AI“What we’ve seen so far is companies and governments collecting data about where we go, who we meet, what movies we watch. The next phase is surveillance, which gets under our skin.”
The attorneys continued that if such cases continue to surface in courtrooms, “judges must grapple with fundamental questions about how genetics relates to personality and identity, property, health and disease, intellectual property and reproductive rights.”